Blockbuster integrates games into Total Access subscription [update]

Blockbuster announced today that it will begin offering game rentals as part of its Total Access online movie rental service. The company will start a pilot program during its second quarter, with a goal of implementing the integrated system nationally by the second half of the year. Essentially, Blockbuster is trying to morph Total Access into a Netflix meets GameFly offering. The question: Will the quality of service be as high as the two go-to names in the field?

Several details on how this program will work are missing from the company's press release. We've contacted Blockbuster and will hopefully speak with them soon. We'll update as soon as we hear back.

Update: We talked to Bob Barr, vice president and general manager for Blockbuster Online. He answers our questions after the break about the service and the possibility of integration with PS3.

Direct quotes are marked as such, otherwise information comes from notes.

Where's this pilot program happening, who's is in it?

That decision will be made soon, but it's in "a couple markets that are a cross segment of our core demographic."

What's the "core demographic?"

Core demographic is family, female 25-35 range.

What's the price?

On a three movie plan, which is 19.99, there is an additional one-time monthly charge of $5 if a game is sent on your queue. The queue for games and films is integrated. In-store exchanges will occur as normal. If you exchange a move or a game in-store, the $5 charge will activate. If you never take a game, your Total Access price will not change.

Are there separate limits between video and game limits?

The pilot program is testing an integrated plan. So you can have a game out at time with two movies.

How many distribution centers do you currently have?


GameFly, your major competitor in the game space, has a serious availability issue with recent titles. What are your plans for this not to happen to Blockbuster?

"We've got a very interesting model here ... we have access to our stores and online ... we'll be leveraging those relationships we already have. We're only going to charge you if you take possession of a game." No definitive answer or guarantee was made.

The main reason people would convert from GameFly would simply be based on the supply of your games? How are you planning to court those subscribers?

"One, we'll have a robust set of offerings online. Two, you'll have access to stores."

Is Blockbuster planning to augment its game library for this program?

"No, I would say not. The inventory we will employ will be a cross representation of titles we have and demand for titles."

How quickly can subscribers expect turnaround?

"Just as fast as with movies."

Is Blockbuster planning on providing a service to Sony, comparable to what Netflix offers to Xbox 360 owners?

"We have no conversations explicitly going on about that at this time ... that's TBD."

This article was originally published on Joystiq.