It may be some time before GameFly gets out of its core business of renting games by mail, but it has paved the way for the move into digital. The company acquired Direct2Drive in 2011 from IGN, turning it into its own PC download service called Ultimate PC Play. The service operates like any game digital download site, Steam for instance, with one added bonus. GameFly subscribers get access to unlimited play for select games, basically the digital version of rental. GameFly won’t say how many customers it has, but it has been building a subscriber base for ten years. Ultimate PC Play is meant to keep them loyal to GameFly even as they join the increasing number of console gamers working digital games into their habit.
That thinking extends to the second front in GameFly's digital strategy – game publishing. The company unexpectedly announced its move into publishing late last year with a mobile game called Writer Rumble. Even more unexpected was the kind of game they signed to launch the effort. One might have expected an action or shooting game targeting console gamers, or perhaps something loosely tied to the brand. Paper Boy comes to mind for the latter. Writer Rumble is a word puzzle game that turns seriously classic (and seriously serious) writers such as Edgar Allen Poe, Agatha Christie and H.P. Lovecraft into brawling cartoon characters.
We spoke with GameFly co-founder and senior VP Sean Spector on the company’s digital strategy. We also got him talking about the decision to sign NBA superstar Blake Griffin, part of their shift in TV campaign strategy from service and customer centric messaging to celebrity spokesperson spots.