Where in the World Are PC Rentals?
As a kid, one of my favorite things to do on a Friday night was to go over to my father’s house. We would order pizza, get ice cream, and most importantly, rent movies and video games. Whether is was Hollywood Video, Blockbuster, or Schnucks (shout out to midwesterners), I was headed straight for the video game section.
I eventually got into PC gaming and abandoned this trend, as did many of the businesses that followed. Innovation ensued and video game rentals became, for the most part, obsolete. However, in the past few years, there has been a resurgence in console rentals and demos and it left me scratching my head; Where the hell are rentals on PC?
Steam Can do it
One of the first arguments that I saw on the internet was that since PC games are almost always tied to DRM that it would be impossible since it’s a one-time activation. That is a load of garbage. There is plenty of ways to deposit temporary codes in people’s accounts.
Look at Steam’s newish return policy. If they have the ability to tag every single purchase by playtime, and still respond if someone wishes to return a game, then I assure you it is possible for temporary keys to be developed.
Every console now essentially does a similar authorization process as Steam does now anyway. How do you suppose they get review copies to work?
Screw Subscriptions, Give Me a Rental
Now, I hear the concerns already. What about Origin Access, or Humbly Monthly, or any of these other great programs that are offered? I don’t want a subscription, I want a rental. The whole idea of a rental in the first place is to pick out the game that you want to play to try it out for yourself before you consider buying.
The only real PC subscription I could even find outside of the few big ones was OnePlay. Their large 2,000+ PC game collection features earth shattering titles like MTB Downhill Simulator and Mankind Defender. Wait, you haven’t signed up already?
A subscription model just doesn’t work on PC. There are way too many games that are held onto way too tightly and it kills a niche market that would love to try out their games before they actually purchase them.
No, it Will Not Kill Steam Sales
One of the major concerns for me about moving to a rental model on PC would be the potential for major things like Steam sales to go away. I really don’t think that’s going to happen, though. Steam sales (and things like it) aren’t happening because of something that companies are keeping from the consumer, but something that PC consumers don’t take part in.
Used sales are why massive discounts are not more often seen on a console. A modern console gamer is buying fewer and fewer games, often selling and trading up individual titles. That’s not the case with PC gamers who have massive libraries of ridiculous titles that they have never even touched.
So, in short, PC gamers are granted the opportunity to have cheap sales because of their purchasing habits. It has nothing to do with rentals. Very little, at the very most.