We were discussing in the chat room a little while ago how fantastically awesome it would be to be able to rent games from Steam. Allow me to explain.
First, the mechanics. Sorta like how Steam already has free weekends for certain multi-player games, Steam (or whatever service) would sell weekend passes. You pay, say, $10, and you have from Friday at 5pm until Monday at 9am (or whatever) to play the game. Given how short single-player campaigns are these days, that’s more than enough time to beat a game. I mean, how long did it take to beat Modern Warfare 2 or Battlefield: Bad Company 2? A few hours at best. (That says something about game design, too, but that’s a discussion for another day.) So, you play a little bit when you get home from work/school on Friday, kill several hours on Saturday, then wrap up any loose ends on Sunday. Or however you want to break up the weekend. The point is, for $10 you get the entire single-player game for a few days. It’s really not too different from the good old days of going to Blockbuster Video on a Friday after school, renting a game, then beating it that weekend.
This mainly speaks to single-player games or single-player campaigns. Maybe if you want multi-player functionality you’d pay an extra $2 or whatever.
Second, the theory. You can rent movies and TV shows from iTunes, right? Then why not games? Is there anything inherent to games that should preclude us from being able to rent them? I mean, and not to sound like a nerd or whatever, but outside of publishers’ greed, what other reason could there be? Perhaps publishers know full well that they’re making games that take no more than 7 or 8 hours to complete, so if you let people rent them they’d never buy them. It’s not like with the movies where people go to the theater one month, then six months later they can rent the movie on Netflix. So many there’s a business reason there, I don’t know. That’s for someone else to figure out.
But here’s something that may interest publishers: would giving people the ability to rent a single-player game or single-player campaign cut down on piracy? Why would you jump through all the hoops to pirate a video game, waste all that time hoping a torrent checks out or whatever, when you can pay a lousy $10, get the game, and have some good, clean fun?
Steam rentals now!