Interview: Boomerang Rentals

Last week I brought you a behind-the-scenes look at Voice Acting and today I bring you another slightly left field topic – video game rentals. Many of us use a rental service to try out games that look intersting but do not justify £40 on the day of release and as I use Boomerang they seemed the logical choice to contact. I spoke to Nick Palczynski, Managing Director of Boomerang Rentals, to find out more.

TSA: To start, can you give the readers some background information on Boomerang?

Nick Palczynski: Boomerang started 5 years ago. The 360 was just about to launch and we identified a need among gamers to find a much more cost effective way of playing games. Blockbuster were renting out games in their shops, but the cost per rental was (and still is) very high and the amount of time you could rent a game for didn’t seem to fit with what I as a gamer wanted.

We currently cover most consoles – Xbox 360, PS3 and Wii are most popular, but we also cover DS, PSP and now 3DS as well as the original Xbox and PS2.

We offer the broadest range of memberships and unique options like Priority Service. We also won a WebUser Gold Award in 2009 for our Website and Service.


TSA: Due to the economic climate and the high price of games renting seems a sensible option these days, are you seeing a boom in subscriptions to your service?

NP: We have seen great growth each year and this year has been no exception. I definitely think gamers are more cost conscious at the moment and we have a very wide range of membership packages to suit any gamers budget and time that they have available to game.

Sales of ex-rental games is also very strong, I guess again due to belts being tightened a bit. Because our ex-rental games are in pristine condition with new boxes, manuals and also unused online codes, our customers can maximise their resale value if they then decide to sell the game on once they have finished. It makes it very cost effective for them.

TSA: I expect you have high demand for AAA titles such as Black Ops and Assassin’s Creed: Brotherhood but have there been any titles for which demand has surprised you?

Yes, Black Ops was in big demand and still is. We definitely see some effect from media reviews and a good or bad Metacritic score does effect whether customers keep that game in their list or perhaps move it down if the review is bad.

We don’t tend to get massive surprises on release day because customers can add the future games to their Coming Soon list, and rental demand tends to mirror retail, however, Crysis 2 started big and grew and then grew some more! Bulletstorm was also a bit like that as well.

Homefront proved perhaps the biggest recent surprise. It’s an FPS so it was always going to be popular, but we thought that concerns about the campaign length might dent demand. That is of course one of the benefits of renting, you can play it through and then send it back.

By the way, we are the only rental company that offers a service for those customers wanting mostly new releases. Our Priority Service gives customers first choice of available games and prioritises them for new releases.

TSA: Many games are now coming with a form of ‘online pass’ which means if the title is rented certain aspects of the game are limited. Have you found that the online pass system has reduced demand for these titles?

NP: So far, we haven’t seen any real drop off in demand. Right back to Bad Company 2, if the game is good, people will rent it and then if they like it opt to Keep It. With us, if you keep a game that originally comes with a code, we send this out unused, with the box and manual so that you get full value.

Actually, I thought how THQ handled it with Homefront was really smart. By allowing you to play up to Level 5, you could get a real taste of the online play before shelling out for the online pass, if you bought the game pre-owned.

TSA: The online pass system has been a product of the massive pre-owned market, publishers and developers frequently bemoaning that they don’t see any of the money generated. They never seem to mention game rental though, do publishers get a cut of rental fees?

My personal view is that the pre-owned market feeds the new release market and Day One sales would be less without customers being able to trade in their games. Generally it’s a good thing for publishers.

Without going into detail, we purchase all our stock via UK Publisher channels and so revenue does flow directly to the people who created the games, unlike with pre-owned.

Clearly some publishers believe that pre-owned sales stifle new sales and I think a lot of this is to do with how some retailers give so much shelf space to pre-owned. In addition, many more retailers have started to get into the pre-owned market as a way of boosting the margins they make.

Currently, the rental market is much smaller than the retail market, pre-owned or new, and I think that rental offers a different set of benefits. Because it’s a small part of the overall market, I don’t think publishers see it as a negative. In fact it’s a great way to introduce new customers to a publisher and their games and it enables our customers to try genres that ordinarily they wouldn’t want to spend £40 or so trying.

TSA: You are currently running a beta test on your site which shows the wait times and stock levels for games, how is that progressing? Do you have any other enhancements planned?

Sorry, I can’t talk about this otherwise I really would have to kill you.. We do have other enhancements planned, but I will reserve news of these for our customers!

TSA: Thank you for your time Nick!

You can find out more about Boomerang Rentals by clicking here. They are running a 21 day free trial service and I can personally recommended them – that’s not me being nice because they took the time to be interviewed, I genuinely find their service to be well worth the money and great for ‘catching up’ on titles I have missed.

Thanks again to Nick and also to Sam Collyer in Boomerang Customer Support for setting up the interview.

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20 Comments

  1. Considering how much actual free time I get to play games at the moment the one game a month for 3.19 is a bargain…pity I cancelled my debit card recently.

  2. I use Boomerang and I think they are excellent. I only have the basic package but they have sent me new releases such as Dead Space 2 on release day. Their customer services are great too, I always get a reply on Twitter very quickly. I would thoroughly recommend them.

  3. Thats awesome!, I just checked the ‘How it works box’ and ‘Packages’. It could save me a ton of ca$h!

    (SNES > Megadrive)

    • Pfft. Sonic is where it’s at ;)

  4. Blimey, £3.49 is very good for a game a month, considering Blockbusters charge £6.19 for a week!

  5. Just had a butchers at this site. They offer some really good prices if you wish to buy the game as well.

  6. I discovered Boomerang last January, and I have used it monthly ever since. Brilliant price and a brilliant service I would thoroughly recommend.

  7. I don’t get that it’s widespread assumption that when you buy a second hand game it’s close to theft (according to a lot of TSA readers as read in a recent article), but with rental games this apparently does’nt spring to mind. While this is probably even worse for developers. Instead of one or two customers lost to a game, this might mount up to a tenfold. Correct me if I’m wrong.

    • You are not wrong, but on the flipside it may encourage people to purchase a game after renting it.

      I personally will rent most games for a couple of days, and if i like it would then consider buying it. My lists are too long to keep games for weeks!

      This also acts as a safety net for not forking out £40 for a game, only to find its crap and gets traded for half the value a week later – it should encourage developers to only put out quality titles, as opposed to the explosion of ‘duff’ games over the years of late

    • 2nd hand games help developers & the gaming market… there’s an alternative blog post coming as soon as I’ve sobered up after this weekend

    • You are wrong but only about one thing. Josh wrote an article with his own opinion. Nearly everyone disagreed with his sentiment (although there were interesting points within). Please don’t think TSA readers agreed en masse.

      • To be fair that debate didn’t seem very one sided and a lot of posts agreed with Josh (I didn’t) so its probably a lot less black and white than that. Since a lot of us posted multiple times and some probably didn’t bother we shouldn’t measure opinion based on responses to the article. cc_star: how about a poll alongside the alternate view?

  8. I bought NBA 2K11 ex-rental from Boomerang and the service was superb. Very helpful through their Twitter account while I was considering ordering and after I had ordered, the game arrived the next day and the condition of the box and the contents were excellent, as if they were brand new.

    Definitely great service and I’ll definitely consider them over LoveFilm if I ever take out another rental package.

  9. Great article Tuffcub. Will have to check them out, Lovefilm is very hit and miss for me.

  10. Good read.

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