Gamefly…or LAMEfly.


Ok, I know, that was a really stupid play on Gamefly’s name, but I have a bone to pick with the company. I have been a loyal, paying customer for a long time and, I’ve seen it go from an awesome service to a….less than awesome service. Please read on.

Gamely was dreamed up and started in 2002, according to their site. I became a member in late 2005. I think it’s pretty fair to say I was an early customer of theirs. I am it sure took the company several years to build any significant customer base. I did not see any of the now commonplace television commercials for it for at least 1 year after I became a member, probably more.

In the beginning, Gamefly offered me a great service. The only distribution warehouse they had at the time was in California, though, and I live on the East coast. Unfortunately, this meant the turn-around time on my games was about 2 weeks. I stuck with it, though, I felt the service Gamefly offered me was good enough that I endured the wait for my games.

Why was the service so good, you ask? Well, I could be fairly certain that, no matter how new or in demand a game was, Gamefly would have a copy of it waiting for me at their warehouse if it was at the top of my list. For the first few years of my membership with the company, I can’t think of a time where I had to take the game second on my list because the game in first place was not available. We are talking God of War, God of War 2, Final Fantasy (If I didn’t just go out and buy it), many others.

I sort of dreaded Gamefly’s inevitable popularity. I wanted the company to do well, and to stay in business, but I didn’t want it to do so well that their service began lacking as a result. Unfortunately, this very situation has now become a reality.

As you many know from a previous thread, I recently purchased a Playstation 3. As such, I immediately logged into Gamefly and began loading my “Q” with PS3 games I wanted to try. I made note of something I have been observing more and more when I log in to my Gamefly account. That is, there fewer and fewer games “Available now”. For example, right now, out of my list of 38 games, FIVE are listed as “Available Now”. That is abhorrent. It’s not like all the games on my list are Killzone 2, either. Here are some examples:

Tetris DS: Low Availability.
LEGO Star Wars: The Complete Saga on Wii: Medium Availbility.
Pikmin 2 for Gamecube: Low Availability.

These are popular games, but older games as well. I honestly have not seen any of them “Available Now” in months. I used to be able to put the game I wanted at the top of my list, drop my return game in the mail and know that my top game would be mailed out. Now, I have to hope that, when Gamefly receives my last game, that the game on the top of my list is listed as having at least a “High Availability” in order to have a PRAYER of getting it. Even then it’s not likely. Here’s what a part of my Gamefly Q looks like:


So I am sure you all have an idea where this is going. I put about 8 games for PS3 on my list. I have 7 of them at the top of my list, any of which I would be happy to receive as my next game. Of course, not one of them are listed as “Available Now”, and of those 7, only 2 are listed “High Availability”. I have never before had a game mailed to me that was further down than 3rd on the list. Even 3rd is a relatively rare case. This week, however, with the top of my list packed to the gills with PS3 potentials, Gamefly gave me the ultimate middle finger when they received my last game. They skipped ALL 7 ps3 games and sent me the EIGHTH game (a PS2 game) on my list. I was enraged. Eighth? How could they do that?


Since I became a member, Gamefly has opened 3 additional warehouses. The closest warehouse to me is now in PA, and my turnaround time is typically 4-5 days, a marked improvement. They have also upped the monthly membership fee within the last year or two. So overall I am paying more, now, for crappier service. Faster service, but still crappier. I seriously doubt that out of the 4 warehouses Gamefly has, NONE of them had ANY of the 7 PS3 games on the top of my list in stock. I don’t think Gamefly distributes from an alternate warehouse that is not the closest to a given customer’s home. Why not? I would be willing to wait the extra day or two to have one of the games on my Q shipped to me from, say, the Florida location. Or, give me the option of waiting for the game at the top of my list to be come available for a few days.

I used to love Gamefly, and recommended it highly to those who asked me about it. Now, I am not so sure. I don’t think that, now, if someone asked me if they should join Gamefly that I could say “yes” without having to go home and drink heavily to allay my mind of the guilt of the aggravation I had just bestowed upon that person. That said, Jay, if you are reading this, since you asked me a few days ago, I think it would be a great idea for you to join Gamefly, it’s a great service!


7 Responses to Gamefly…or LAMEfly.

  1. Christopher says:

    Huh? That’s really weird. Have you contacted Gamefly about this? How long has it been going on? I’ve been on board with them from the early days myself when things were slower but I haven’t experienced anything even remotely close to what you describe here ever, even when they were getting off the ground.

    I’d get in touch with them. Something isn’t right. Seems like every day I’m reading something or other about how they are growing their business. They gotta be doing something right and this can’t be the norm for a successful business. I’m sure there’s a logical explanation.

    Frustrating as it may be at the moment, I can’t see giving up on them, especially in the current economy. The costs, even when you’re idle for a bit still end up being far less than buying stuff. I’d definitely drop them a line and tell them what’s going on. In my past experience CS has always been pretty helpful.

  2. 2000prelude says:

    Thanks for the reply, Chris. Admittedly, no, I have not contacted them. another thing I wanted to mention in the post, but neglected to was the response rate of CS. In the beginning, if I sent them a message with a question or concern, I would get a response same day, next day at the latest. Now, If I send a message, at least for me, it’s 4-5 days or more before I get a boilerplate response. Where do you live? Perhaps your higher level of service is due to the distribution center you use?

  3. Curtis says:

    I have the same thing going on, all with PS3 titles as well. Honestly I think the PS3’s lack of popularity may have something to do with it. Maybe they don’t keep as many games in stock? I’ve learned to live with it seeing as I don’t mind waiting for a game I really want to play. It is frustrating at times though when you sent a game back and they have it, only to wait a week to have your next title shipped. Oh well, as long as I don’t sit without a game for too long I am usually a happy camper.

  4. Christopher says:

    I’m in New York and also served by PA. I typically see a 3 day turnaround on games and almost always get fast return working for me.

    I’d definitely get in touch with them about this. I’m sure they’ll do something for you. As for the response rate of CS, admittedly, I haven’t had a need to contact them recently so I can’t speak to current speeds but I’m going to guess they’re probably in the midst of expanding. If you follow the rumors online there’s been some buzz about this and then, there’s the whole shacknews thing last week. It could just be a really busy/active time and things will start to level off in the coming months.

    Another thing to consider is all of the potentially new subscribers on board after the holiday season. This could be pretty huge when you think about it. If there’s any consolation it’s that they’ve managed to work the kinks out before so I’m sure if it’s a growing pains issue, they’ll work through it. Nonetheless, I’d definitely fire off a message to CS. It can’t hurt.

  5. Jason says:

    I quit GF a few months ago (subscriber for over a year) for essentially the same reasons. Games would be checked in and off of my Q for days sometimes before they eventually sent me my next game, which could be first in my list, or 10th. It got to the point where I took off any games I “sort of” wanted to play, in favor of only those games I felt I just needed to play.

    I contacted CS once about a game that apparently took two weeks to show up at their warehouse. They sent back an email apologizing, but also put in little dig at me. They said that maybe I should try using a different post office and, ultimately, they would have to flag my account if another game took as long (even though they say to report a game missing after 6 days or thereabouts). It was at this time I chose to cancel my membership.

    I wouldn’t NOT recommend it to others, as it really is a great idea, but I would definitely relay to them the issues I had with them beforehand.

  6. Christopher says:

    I don’t see the logic in quitting the service. Where else can you cycle through 30+ games for $250/yr.? I mean, even when things slow down you’re still in the black.

    Actually, using a different post office is a valid suggestion as not all of them scan games for fast return which is a service gamefly has set up with the postal service. Basically, once games are scanned, gamefly gets notified and will send the next game out in your queue before they get that one back. Trouble is, not all post offices scan. Some don’t even know they have the ability. Leave it to the postal service to be completely lacking in any sense of urgency… anyway, it’s a valid suggestion and not a dig.

    As for flagging your account when games take that long to get to you… they do that because they are trying to identify service areas with problems. I’ve read all about this. It’s not some kind of personal attack. Why on earth would they single you out if your post office sucks? If anything they’re singling out areas where improvements need to be made.

  7. Alex Neuse says:

    Yo. I just checked my “Q”. Of the first 15 games in it, ONE is “available now”. This sauce is weak.

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