In February, Blockbuster announced plans to roll out a pilot program for mail-order video game rentals sometime in the second quarter. It was confirmed that this would be an add-on to the company’s “Total Access” movie rental program, not a standalone offering, but otherwise details were sparse. Today, Blockbuster provided an update. The company said in a statement that a pilot of the game rental service will begin June 30th in Cleveland.
Subscribers opting-in to participate will be able to add Wii, PS2, PS3 and Xbox 360 games to their online rental queue for an incremental monthly fee. The fee, which hasn’t been disclosed, will only be charged for billing cycles in which the customer actually rents games.
"This pilot allows us to test a variety of implementation details and gather invaluable key learnings and consumer insights before finalizing and launching a national online game rental offering," said Bob Barr, the Vice President and General Manager of Blockbuster.com.
The national rollout is expected later this year. Blockbuster is betting the bundled package of games and movies will create a value proposition capable of luring customers away from rival services like Netflix (movies) or Gamefly (games), or alternatively, prevent customer defections in the opposite direction.
For the first quarter ended April 5th, Blockbuster reported domestic game rental revenue of $54.3m. That’s essentially flat compared to $54.6m for the same period last year, and down from the $62.3m reported in Q4 2008. As a percentage of rental revenue, games contributed 6.7% in Q1.
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