Gaming can be an expensive hobby. If you buy games as they're released, you’re likely spending about $60 per game. You can afford to keep up with the latest games if you do two things: One, wait about two weeks after the release date so they’re available to rent. And two, rent your video games.
Online video game rental stores are few and far between, but you can still find some that let you pay a monthly fee for a game. We chose those that don’t charge you late fees (so you have time to beat the final boss, even if he’s really hard) and that include the most popular titles. Video game rentals are giving way to digital services, which you can read more about in our articles about online video game rentals here.
The Best Video Game Rental Service for PC Gamers
If you’re a serious gamer, you likely have the core consoles and a PC so you can sample all of the games available. GameFly is the best online video game rental service that also offers video game streaming. You can rent a PlayStation 4, Xbox One or Wii U video game that arrives in the mail about two days after you reserve it, but you can also take advantage of GameFly’s PC game streaming. This gives you access to games that you’d prefer to play on your PC, and you don’t have to wait for the mail to come. GameFly offers a plan that lets you rent two games at a time, so it’s a good choice if you have two gamers in the family who don’t want to share a console or computer – or if you just get bored easily.
Rent Video Games Tonight With This Service
In addition to being cost-effective, renting video games can also give you instant gratification. You won’t be tearing the plastic off a new game case, but you can have it in hand right now if you rent from Redbox. This company is better known for renting movies, but it also offers a modest selection of video games. You can browse the titles online, choose the game you want to play, and then find a Redbox kiosk near you to pick it up. That’s it. If you game all weekend, you could beat it by Sunday, return it and have only paid a fraction of the cost of a new game. If the game has excellent replay value, you also have the option of buying the video game.
Redbox revolutionized movie rentals with its highly accessible kiosks and freedom to rent movies without a membership. It also jumped into the online video game rental business. Thousands of kiosks are available in populated areas of the U.S., so most people are never more than a few miles away from the newest games and movies.
The Best Online Video Game Rental Service for Selection
One of the best places to rent video games online is Gamerang, if only for its wide selection. The game giant offers more than 8,000 titles for nearly a dozen different consoles. Although you won’t be able to rent classic titles from the early NES or Sony PlayStation days, you can find video games for the previous generation consoles, such as Xbox 360 and PS3. Gamerang offers a few different plans so you can rent one game or two games at a time. As soon as you return a game using the prepaid mailer, the next game in your queue is mailed to you, so you can be ready to shoot, race, jump and play your way to the end of another video game.
Gamerang has more than 13,000 titles for all major gaming consoles, which covers almost any game you can think of. This affordable online video game rental service ships from multiple distribution centers nationwide, so you can receive games fast. Gamerang doesn’t have a parental control feature and doesn't offer a free trial, but the service offers rental plans to suit every gaming lifestyle, from the casual gamer to the ultimate gaming enthusiast. Additionally, if you like your rental so much that you just can’t bear to part with it, you have the option to purchase the game instead of sending it back.
Canadian Gamers Can Rent Video Games, Too
Most online video game rental stores are only available for U.S. residents. But there are a handful of video game rental services in other countries. Game Access is a video game delivery service for the most northern residents of North America. Game Access works exactly like other monthly subscription services where you pay a fee and get a game from your queue shipped to you in the mail. As soon as you send it back, the next game on your list gets stamped and mailed to you. You can also take advantage of this service's “rent to own” option, so if you try a game that you really like, you can buy it at a discount. Game Access’ library is 4,000 titles strong and growing.
The Streaming Netflix Equivalent for Gamers
Although there are other streaming services that let you play games without having to buy physical copies of the games, many of them have limited libraries or require you to purchase specific equipment. For example, GeForce Now requires you buy a Shield device or an NVIDIA graphics card for your PC. PlayStation Now limits you in one way: You can only play PlayStation titles. That said, the game library has at least 400 titles. In the same way that you can pay a monthly fee to Netflix for access to TV shows and movies – all that you want to watch – PlayStation Now charges you a monthly fee in exchange for access to hundreds of video game titles. As long as you have a PC or a PS4 and an internet connection, you can play some of the most popular game titles.
Sony’s PlayStation is one of the video game giants that got involved in the online video game rental scene. It offers gaming as a service (GaaS) thanks to its robust library of games and its acquisition of GaiKai, a cloud gaming service. PlayStation Now lets its members stream games online without having to pay full price for a game, download a full game or worry about late fees or return envelopes.
Bottom Line: Try Before You Buy Makes Sense
Each gamer has their preference of console, genre and gaming setup (chair vs. couch, controller vs. mouse and keyboard). Also, not everyone has lightning-fast internet yet, while others are sitting pretty with Google Fiber, which is why we included services that let you rent physical games and those that offer streaming services. Consider your preferences, your internet speed and whether you want the option to buy after renting before you choose an online video game rental service.