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Sean Patrick Hagen

Just a Vancouver coder

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So today I’m going to start an experiment. For the last few months, I feel like I’ve been too busy to really get back into video games. As New Years Eve is just around the corner, I figured now is as good a time as any to change that.

This experiment has two parts.

The first is a video game rental service: Game Access.ca. This is a service that lets users rent video games by mail, basically. They’ve got four plans ( two only available as an upgrade after you sign up ) that let you rent one, two, three, or four games at the same time. I’m going to be trying out the “one game at a time” membership. I’m also going to be shelling out a bit extra so that I can use the ‘fast return’ service. The fast return service basically lets you hit a button on the site as soon as you put the game in the mail, and they’ll send out the next in your queue that day ( or something along those lines ). Basically, no waiting till they receive the game before they send out the next one.

The reason I’m giving this a try is that I’ve found that I’ve become very reluctant to buy new games in the last few months. I’ll spend several hours in a EB Games looking at games, even picking one up and carrying it around, only to put it down and rush out of the store. This is partially because I’ve been burned by game purchases in the past, but also because I’m becoming a bit more spend-thrift. I’ve got stuff I want to save up for, and while a $50 or $60 game purchase is a drop in a bucket compared to the stuff I’m trying to save up for, it becomes larger when I take into account all the games I want to get. That’s not even counting games that aren’t worth the $60 investment, let alone after they drop to bargin bin prices. While I’ve recouped losses in the past by trading them in at EB Games, getting 20 cents to the dollar is just a bit more salt in the wound.

The second part is signing up for the PlayPack Bundle through the OnLive service. If you haven’t heard of OnLive, here’s the low-down: basically, gaming in the cloud. Using your computer, the OnLive game console, or even a tablet ( iOS or Android ), you get access to a pretty large library of games. The catch is that you don’t download them, everything happens on the servers owned by OnLive. The way it works is pretty simple: your console ( I’m going to use ‘console’ instead of ‘pc/console/whatever’ – it’s shorter ) sends your input to the server, the server sends down a rendered video stream. Think of it as you having the controller & the screen, but OnLive is the console – with the two of you connected by the internet.

Okay, maybe I made a hash of explaining it, but I think it’s pretty simple – then again, I’m a massive geek.

Anyways, the PlayPack Bundle is $10/month, and you get access to a pretty decent library of games. Right now, the library boasts over 100 titles, including some I’ve been meaning to play but never got around to buying, or others that I no longer have the equipment for ( original XBox ). So, with this PlayPack bundle, I’ll have access to a nice library of games that I wouldn’t otherwise buy, but can now enjoy from the comfort of my own home. Plus, if I see a newer game on OnLive that I’d like to play ( like Saints Row 3, or Batman: Arkham City ), I can pay for those ( usually full price, but they occasionally have sales ) and play them right away.

OnLive appeals to me for two reasons: the first is no discs. Getting access to such a library of games and not having to worry about discs is pretty awesome, in my mind. The other reason is that I think it’s a pretty great idea, and I want to support it. Basically the reason I buy games from the Humble Indie Bundle.

I’m going to give both of these services six months, and then make a decision as to whether or not I’m going to keep using them. As well as the occasional status update, I’ll post again at the six month mark ( so, end of May ) to let you folks know the verdict.