With E3, the vidgame industry’s annual confab, beginning next week, Redbox is embracing the latest generation of consoles.
The company plans to dramatically expand its selection of games for the Xbox One and PlayStation 4 in kiosks nationwide, with a complete rollout finished by the end of the year. (At present, only about 5,000 offer these titles.) That means hotly anticipated games such as “Star Wars: Battlefront” and “Halo 5: Guardians” will be widely available to the company’s 37 million subscribers during the holiday season.
“We feel that the time is right and the consumers are shifting rapidly to the new generation,” Mark Horak, president of Redbox, told Variety. “By stepping into new generation, we’re also going to get consumers to play more games — by making these games available to them at a price point that doesn’t require the full purchase of the game.”
Consumers pay $3 for a 24-hour Redbox game rental versus $60 for the title at retail.
Redbox plans to emphasize the try-before-you-buy aspect of its service to consumers, which it hopes will also increase the popularity of game rentals. At present, Horak says, games only represent 2% of the company’s rentals.
“We see an incredible opportunity to increase that moving forward,” he says.
The focus right now is only on Xbox and PlayStation titles. (Existing Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 games will be phased out.)
Redbox says it does not plan to stock Wii U games in its kiosks, due to low consumer interest in the platform. Should customers begin demanding Nintendo titles, though, the company will reconsider its stance.
Redbox’s focal shift to the Xbox One and PlayStation 4 comes as those systems close in on their third holiday season. Traditionally, that has been a turning point for game makers — as early adopters and core players have already bought new systems and, in order to keep the hardware sales momentum going, system manufactuers must focus on a larger audience.
“Microsoft and Sony have to start broadening the audience into more households with kids and figure out what girls want to play on the new platforms,” says John Taylor, managing director of Arcadia Research Corp.
Bill West, vice president of games at Redbox, says that timing was key to the company’s decision to push into next generation games at this time.
“Why would Redbox be in the [rental] business in the first [part of the] cycle?,” he says. “It doesn’t make sense. Where the consoles are in their lifecycle now is perfectly aligned with our customer base.”