GameStop ‘Temporarily Pauses’ Netflix-Like Video Game Rental Service Days Before Launch


GameStop surprised gamers at the end of October by announcing PowerPass, a new kind of rental service that would allow customers to play any number of games from GameStop's pre-owned library if they pay a one-time fee of $60. It's like Netflix for video games — but spanning six months.

GameStop Pauses PowerPass Rental Program

PowerPass is set to launch on Nov. 19, but according to a report by Kotaku, GameStop has decided to "temporarily pause" the rollout of the service just days before it was supposed to become available.

GameStop has yet to explain why it's suddenly pausing the service's scheduled launch, but it has cited "program limitations" as the issue that necessitated the temporary halt. Still, according to Kotaku, sources from GameStop claim the issue stems from the company's point-of-sale system, which apparently can't handle the PowerPass rental program.

"We feel this is the right thing to do for now to ensure we are able to provide our guests an exceptional service," a GameStop spokesperson said.

Customers who have already paid the $60 fee will receive a full refund and be allowed to pick out a pre-owned game for free.

GameStop PowerPass

GameStop has not said when the program will be reinstated, nor has it given any clear indication on what's preventing the subscription service from being rolled out. If speculation is true, the company would need to upgrade the point-of-sale system in all its stores across the country, which could take a while. After all, that's the same system which suffered from a data breach in April.

PowerPass, originally scheduled to launch on Nov. 19, is a $60 rental service that allows customers to pick out any pre-owned game from a GameStop store, play it as much as they want, then return it to swap for another pre-owned title. Once the six months are up, players get to pick one of the games they had rented during rental period.

Canceling a major service days before it's launch is quite suspicious. Perhaps GameStop is reevaluating some requirements of the program, likely the $60 one-time fee. Perhaps it decided at the last-minute to take a different route and charge users per month instead of asking them a flat fee for the whole duration of the program. Perhaps GameStop realized it was too good to be true and would hurt its already-flailing business.

In March, the company announced that it would be closing nearly 150 GameStop locations worldwide. Maybe it realized PowerPass would expedite its demise. Maybe GameStop wants to avoid suffering the same fate as failed video rental chain Blockbuster.

That's just speculation, keep in mind. It's entirely possible that GameStop simply overestimated its system's capacity to offer PowerPass and failed to anticipate it. Either way, gamers will definitely be bummed about this.

Thoughts about PowerPass? Why do you think GameStop temporarily canceled its rollout? As always, feel free to sound off in the comments section below!

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