Pocket Full Of Chump Change

Blockbuster to add video game rentals to Total Access online program. Can Netflix be far behind?

Starting in the second quarter, Blockbuster will add video game rentals to Total Access, their answer to Netflix’s online rental service. While the move makes a lot of sense it does present some interesting challenges. Video games tend to have shorter shelf life than movies. Even a highly anticipated title like Metal Gear Solid 4 or Fallout 3 will experience major sales dropoffs after just a month or so of release. Games also cost three to four times more than a DVD and double the cost of Blu Ray. Add in the fact that most games now release across multiple platforms, and you’re left with the dilemma of how many titles Blockbuster will need to order per system. This adds up to a daunting task.

Also, if you’ve ever gone into a Blockbuster and tried to rent a hot new gaming title, more power to you. The in store selection is weak.

Still the gaming industry is a multi-billion dollar industry, and titles like GTA IV often earn more in sales on their first dayof release than major movie titles earn their whole theatrical run. It made sense that someone would combine movie and gaming rentals. I’m simply shocked it wasn’t Netflix.

Netfix recently announced over 1.5 million people have signed up for their Watch Now streaming service via Xbox Live. with this massive, built in subscriber base you’d figure they’d be gung-ho about expanding their service to cater to this crowd. Yet they seem content to let Gamefly lead the charge when it comes to online gaming rental. I recently redeemed a 30 Day free trial coupon for Gamefly’s service via my Netflix envelope and am not all that impressed. The gaming selection is weak. any A or even B list title released title of the past two months has low probability of arriving any time soon. The user interface is clunky and unresponsive. Managing the queue is a chore. Still, as a gamer that’s bought a few too many clunkers, the ability to have a game on hand for $15 a month will probably save me a couple hundred this year, so for now I’ll keep the service. That said, I’d gladly cancel and shift funds to my business the moment Netflix offered games. If Blockbuster begins to make inroads to Netflix’s subscriber base, one would expect they’d have to add gaming. Here’s to hoping they won’t wait until it comes to that.

If Netflix does choose to add games to their mix, here’s hoping they do the following:
1) Allow for downloading games straight to the hard driveThis shouldn’t be all that hard. Charge a monthly fee per game until the user deletes it from the hard drive. this would cut down on damaged games, and also alleviate the biggest problem Gamefly has: the unavailability of top tier games. A typical game has as much content as a DVD movie. There’s no reason you can’t begin downloading a game in the evening and have it ready to play when you wake up in the morning
2)Simple rental plans for adding gamesAllow for a simple rate on top of my movie plan. I might keep a movie for a couple days, but it might take weeks to beat a game. I don’t want to that to eat up one of my three-out-at-a-time slots when the wife and I are having Sopranos weekend marathon sessions.
3)Sell used games.I love cleaning up on used games for 30-40% off once they’ve been out for a while. I’m cheap.

February 12, 2009 Posted by | gaming, xbox360 | , , , , , | 2 Comments

The End of 2008 Chumpchange Retrospective “Get Stoked” List of Goodies part one

Since everyone else does these bloody things, I thought I’d toss my own list out there. This is the first part of what will undoubtedly be one of the most epic posts in the history of the internet. In 2123 the great-great-grand-second-nephew of Rick Riley will proclaim this series of posts the Magna Carta of interweb posting on a retrospective documentary detailing early 21st century lifestyles. Then he will turn on his jetpack and fly to Neptune to take out a hostile band of aliens from the galaxy Nefaria. A note of disclaimer: the following list is in no particular order, and consists solely of events, items and curious incidentals which at one point or another have caused me to shimmy my buttocks in a happy dance while wearing nothing but socks and boxers. Without further ado:

Fallout 3: “War. War never changes.” Ron Perlman’s narration begins an epic game which finds the player leaving the safe confines of the vault for the Wasteland-a post-apocalyptic Washington DC overrun with Super Mutants, Raiders, feral ghouls and all sorts of other beasties. Development Studio Bethesda gives the player complete freedom over the game, allowing one to tackle the main quest or dozens of side quests at their own pace. If you’re familiar with the studio’s previous effort, the mammoth RPG Oblivion, you’ll appreciate the improvements in combat (with the target VATS system, which works kind of like a digital 20 sided die), graphics, sound and overall playability. You can spend nearly a hundred hours playing without touching the main objectives at all. After beating the game as a “good” character, I decided to begin from scratch and play as a real bastard. Few moments in gaming history have given me as much joy as pressing a detonator which set off a nuclear warhead that obliterates one of the few remaining functional settlements of the game. There are few moral quandaries more satisfying as deciding whether or not to pay a Scavenger for needed ammo, or just taking out the Ripper and gutting him from head to toe, then pickpocketing the corpse for what you need. Taking audio cues from Bioshock, Fallout integrates a pair of radio stations, one carrying patriotic messages and music from President Malcom McDowell, the other playing old-timey crooners, which adds to the creeptastic atmosphere. There’s few things moe disturbing than getting bashed around the head and neck by a giant mutant while ella fitzgerald quietly sobs for lost love in the headset. Even better, the studio has announced downloadable add-ons for XBOX360 owners that should be available by springtime, which will add dozens more hours of mutant blasting.

1. Doris Kearnes Goodwin’s “Team of Rivals”: Granted this came out in ’05 to much ballyhoo and acclaim, and earned Goodwin the Pulitzer Prize, but its cache rocketed once the title became permanently affixed to the Obama transition team’s strategy of putting together a cabinet consisting of people that would have gladly nudged him in front of fast moving oncoming traffic mere months ago. The narrative details Lincoln’s gift for grassroots politics, his ability to forgive grudges against rivals and keen insights on reading public sentiment as the tools which first, won him the 1860 nomination against candidates thought better suited to the job, and as the country ripped itself apart in the Civil War, Lincoln harnessed these gifts as a means to keep an administration (largely) loyal to his desired course of action. For those that are historically challenged, please allow me to spoil the end for you: the north wins and lincoln gets shot to death.

I Love You Beth Cooper (Larry Doyle)-Jesus I hope this guy publishes more stuff. I haven’t laughed so hard reading since Youth In Revolt. Here’s a quick summation: A nerdy high school valedictorian that no one has ever seemed to notice to use his graduation speech to say “fuck it” and a)Tell anyone and everyone who has ever crossed his path what he really thinks of them, tearing folks a new bunghole along the way and b) telling the lady of his dreams (3 guesses as to her name) that he fancies her. After this, hilarious hi-jinx ensue. Think of this movie as if Say Anything was put into novel form, except Diane Court was a chain-smoking alcoholic nympho with a nice career as late-night Denny’s waitress waiting for her instead of a scholarship to England. Also, expect slightly less kickboxing and Clash on the sound track, but a hair more lesbian experimentation. Apparently, the movie version comes out summer ’09 and stars the cheerleader from Heroes, which means it will probably be billed as “Superbad meets Say Anything” except it won’t really be anything like that and I’ll just be bitter that’s someone got paid to steal my byline.

2. Rhapsody music service: If you love music, then Rhapsody is like crack cocaine, if all the crack cocaine you wanted to consume cost you $15 a month and didn’t lead to cold sweats, paranoia, convulsions, manic fist fights with biker gangs,  stealing money from your kids’ piggy bank, scabbies, and eventual death from one’s heart bursting inside the chest. With over six million songs in the data base, a simple user interface, easy to create playlists and a better internet radio service than Pandora, Rhapsody is the best way to listen to music online. Not only was I able to find anything and everything from mainstream artists like Springsteen, U2, REM and others, I’m constantly amazed my the staple of independent artists i find on their site. A quick check of my artists page finds diverse acts like the New Dumb, the Mishaps, Atom and His Package, Lifetime and more right at my fingertips. I can’t recommend this site strongly enough.

DarkHorizons.com: as a movie nerd, this is my one stop shop place to grab all the latest headlines. Whether it’s all the latest bits of trade gossip, updates on the status of upcoming films or behind the scene interviews with the cast and creators, Dark Horizon has it all. On top of that, there’s a massive directory of movie trailers, most available in high def. It’s the perfect way to treat a Sunday morning hangover. Finally, the site excludes a “talk back”forum, so you don’t have to have your manhood challenged, nor the integrity of one’s mother’s virtue called into doubt simply because you didn’t feel like a season 3 episode of Heroes is the television equivalent of filling a potato sack with cherubic little infants, then smashing said bag repeatedly over a rock.

Okay that’s it for part one. Part two is a mere twenty four hours away. Digg it people.




December 29, 2008 Posted by | arts, Blogroll, gaming, music, xbox360 | , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment