Game Rental Service in Canada

So its no secrete that I don’t have a lot of money and I know there is a lot of people out there in the same boat so spending a huge chunk of change on a game that might or might not be for you is a tough decision. It will all come down to what kind of gamer you are and you would have to decide from there. I mean if you only play a couple games a year it might be no issue but if you are on the opposite end of the spectrum and you’re the guy who has to play anything that remotely looks entertaining. But for all of the above there is a service for us Canadians (Not to single anyone out but this article will be mostly useful for Canadians as the US has their own Online gaming rental services) Its called GameAccess. (All prices mentioned in this post are in Canadian Dollars, please apply your own Tax, PST, HST to the cost per your State)


You might have heard of Game Access if you googled Game Rentals in Canada or something similar. Game Access hails from Montreal but ships anywhere in Canada. The way it works is you make an account and sign up for a few different plans they offer. And of course you can try the service at no risk free for 30 days. They will put a $50 Holding fee on the card for the Trial Period but is in no way an actual charge but DO make sure you have enough on your card before considering this option.


Also note that the free trial, like most other trials, will automatically turn into a plan after 30 days so its best to set a Calendar Reminder somewhere for 29 days. They do not charge late fee’s in any sense so even if you decide to mail it back on the day you cancel you will not be charged if it shows up at their office the following week.


Now this is no ad for a service this is just me passing along detailed information for anyone who would need such a service but are uncertain how everything works. As an 8-year member of the site I can go into great detail about how it all works, what you get, what the service is like and more and if I miss anything your concerned about feel free to leave a comment below or even send me a tweet at @switchblade1984.
So here is how the plans and service work and I am going to get as detailed as I can. Game Access offers 4 plans. 


1 Games Out = First Month = $0 (If you Start with the Free Trial) $18.95 (+Tax) 
or
 First Month = $10 and renews at $18.95 (+ Tax) onward. (Better to start with a free trial ether way)
2 Games Out = $15.95 and renews at $25.95 (+ Tax) onward.
3 Games Out = $33.95 (+Tax)
4 Games Out = $40.95 (+ Tax)


(Prices may vary, increase or decrease from the time this article was posted)
These price are all on a monthly cycle and there are no late fees to worry about. Now as you can see by the price they are set up in a way where you get a slightly better value the more games you have out.
Now as far as how the mechanics go, this will be the most informative part of the post to show how exactly the inner workings… work.


So Game Access has a huge library of games to select from. The company launched back in 2005 and has titles covering the Xbox 360/ PS3 era of games (Yes they also have Nintendo games) Surprisingly they even offer classic games from PS2/Xbox/Game Cube as well. But that’s about as far as their catalog goes and you can go to GameAccess.com and browse it before even signing up.


The way it works is you build up a queue of games and they send whatever is available in your queue to you in whatever order you specify. Game Access recommends having more then 10 games in your queue (Excluding unreleased game) to ensure you have a game shipped to you at all times. This system works well if you are not picky about newer titles and have more then 10 games in queue. But it can get a bit frustrating if your only out for the newest games, this is where the service can be very slow but its also due in part by additional features you can sign up for so let me dive into that.


You can add additional feature to your monthly account to help the service move along a little better called Service Upgrades. They have 2 of these and they are around $2 to $3 a month before taxes (Not sure on the exact price as I am already signed up and can’t see the price anywhere) and are as follows.


FAST RETURN


“With Fast Return, as soon as you've dropped your game into the nearest mailbox and it's on its way to us, you can hit the "Fast Return" button next to the game in your queue. This notifies us and we'll get another game out to you immediately, before we get another one back. This means you'll be getting more games, quicker!”


GAME RESERVE


“Is the game you're looking for already rented out? Reserve it! Reserving a game puts you higher up the rental priority list and ensures you receive a copy sooner. If you've reserved a game, you'll also be able to see your position on its rental priority queue.”


Sadly, if you want a continuous flow of the games you want and also newer ones you would have to add these features on top of the plan cost. There IS however a way to get these features for free and that’s by signing a 1 Year contract. This contract gives you the features for free and if you already plan to at least keep the service for a year this might be for you. The contract stipulations are that you need to have at least a 1 Game out plan a month. You can upgrade your plan and they will adjust your charge per cycle but you can only downgrade to a 1 Game Out Plan on this contract. Also its set to Auto Renew come the next year as of the date you signed it. In order to get out, like most contracts, you can inquire to see how much to buy out of it. Also to cancel after the first year, you will have to call in a week or more before your contract expires, they have no feature to turn off Auto Renew manually unfortunately.


I will now go over personal experience’s with Game Access. 
So of course putting everything together gets you a nice flow of games but only theoretically. Unfortunately, it won’t work the way you imagine such a service working perfectly. I wish there was a way to just put games on the queue and get the ones I want but I don’t dabble a lot in older titles and I try to play all the newest stuff. The older stuff I end up buying on sale. So for someone as picky as me, that needs all the month’s latest games, requires a bit more planning with the service upgrades.


Now with Game Reserve, you can Reserve a game but depending on when you got on that Reserve on upcoming titles, you might still not get it in the first few weeks. Game Access doesn’t always buy enough copies to accommodate every single person on Reservation and the higher up you are the worst your chances but still better then not being on Reservation. And if you are NOT on a Reservation at all its slim to none that you will get the game that month because there will still be lingering people who didn’t get the first batch on Reservation and anyone that comes in to Reserve afterwards will still be in priority above anyone who doesn’t Reserve. The queue system has a visual bar that is only suppose to give you an idea of the stock they have but ultimately isn’t useful at all. Its just not very accurate as a lot of times I have put games at full bar and it still took a week to get.


Let’s say a game is very popular and anticipated. There might be upwards of 60 people or more on the queue. Game access will often get half that the first day and order the remainder based of how many is left and its not always a copy for everyone so the top 10% of large lists like that might still have to wait a couple weeks before they see it. Its all up to how many people return their when they are done.


Because the feature only lets you reserve one game at a time going off the list and going back on will shuffle you to the bottom of the deck. So you really got to plan ahead to get the latest titles. I feel this is where Game Access suffers in their service. Its nearly impossible for someone to sign up and get a game that came out that week on a simple 1 Game Out Plan. 


But if you are just trying to play whatever games I feel you have better odds if they are a month old or older. Again with the trial you can see how it would work first hand.


The Fast Return 


One good thing is included in your plan (all plans) is Free Shipping for all game Rentals. They send them in discrete letter envelopes and Disc Sleeves. One other thing to note is as soon as Game Access gets their games in for distribution the games retail box is kept in pristine condition along with manuals and codes so when you go to “Keep It” The disc might be worn (Depending on how much its been rented) but the box is almost mint condition and comes with whatever DLC codes the game originally did. That brings me to the next useful feature, the Keep It feature. Every plan has it but the longer you are a member the cheaper it becomes. All games costs are reduced the longer you have it out. This feature isn’t without its draw back though. For one, sending it back, getting something else, then renting it again reset the discount and you start over. The other thing with Keep It is there is no Guarantee that you will be able to Keep It in the future. Game Access has a certain threshold of games they allow people to keep. Once they reach that untold Threshold they will disable the Keep It feature. I had a game for 5 – 6 months and it was well under $20 (from the retail $79.99) only to have it removed the next day I wanted to keep it. Doesn’t happen all the time but its in the deck of possibilities.


One last factor that detracts from the service is something that seems to be out of their control. Thanks to Canada having sub-par postal service, Canada Post. With all the striking and delays its really hard to predict exactly when games will get to you. The best possible time for a game to be shipped to you is Monday or Tuesday and it might come that week. Don’t expect a game to arrive to your place if it has been shipped on a Thursday or Friday. But its all dependant on Canada Post. I had games very rarely show up next day. Sometimes in 2 days. But its often 3 – 5 days. That why your queue will rely on a lot of planning by filling up your queue, just don’t fill it with game you really don’t want.


But that’s the worst of the worst with this service. After a little bit I just had to plan ahead and I would go on to receiving a lot of newly released games. It’s almost impossible to receive 2 games that release on the same day mainly because you can only reserve one game at a time. What I do is plan around them. Look for new release games I want that are around 2 weeks apart. Make sure you have something your playing before that so you are not paying for empty slots. Reserve one, if its sent immediately get on the next game coming out in a couple weeks and so forth. You can also utilize the Fast Return feature if you have it to father optimize your Game Flow. If you’re in a nice low spot on reservation and have max games out you can fast return a game to send back the day before the new one releases and they will still ship out the newly reserved one while the other is in transit.


Another feature is a loyalty rewards tier system where you can receive discounts on game Purchases (Not rentals) This includes “Keep It” Prices.  They have 3 loyalty tiers you can achieve after a steady membership. Remember its better to downgrade to Silver to keep this going if you decide to pause.


•    ROOKIE = 10% discounts.
•    VETERINE = 20% discounts.
•    HALL OF FAMER 30% discounts.


Its better to set your plan to Silver Membership if you want to take a break from the service to maintain the Loyalty Status.


This service is also useful if you just aren’t sure about that game coming out. I mean if you rent it and find you hate it right away and send it back it beats being burnt the full retail price. Also keeping the game after a while if you are able too frees up slots for newer games and you are no longer making payments on the game you kept.


One of the best parts of the service is the Customer Support. The Email Support has been very good for me and I will get a response within the day’s business hours. I only had to call a few times but that solves problems even fast. Game Access is good about making you happy and can address any concerns with the service you might have. They get an A+ in customer service from me.


Overall I have kept getting burnt on games to a minimum over the years. I am also playing a lot more games then I would be able to afford otherwise. I am subscribed to a 4 Games Out plan and find it hard to downgrade because I just want to play so many games at a giving time. Its cool that if you are on a High Games Out Plan but no longer need that many you can simply downgrade to Silver and keep your Loyalty Rewards and simply come back after months and start it up again.


I highly recommend Game Access to all gamers of Canada. I hope you read all of this first as it will help a great deal to understand what you’re getting into. Game Access themselves can answer anything I didn’t cover and you can head over to GameAccess.com to find out more.

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