Game publishers have traditionally viewed game rentals with a jaundiced eye, presuming that people who rent a game for a day or two won’t be buying the game, and thus represent a lost sale. Not so, avers Redbox’s director of video games Ryan Calnan. While an increasing number of people are streaming games and downloading games, there’s still plenty of game sales happening. Game rentals are also growing in popularity, and Redbox says that leads to more game sales.

“We have a 20-50 percent conversion rate of people buying a game after they’ve tried it through Redbox,” Calnan said. “The percentage varies depending on the time of year, but it’s a very healthy conversion of rent-to-purchase rate.”

Redbox operates rental kiosks for DVDs. Blu-ray discs and video games at more than 35,000 locations across North America. Customers can rent popular games for the PlayStation 3, Xbox 360 and Wii. Some kiosks in selected areas offer PlayStation 4, Xbox One or Wii U games as well.

Game rentals gives publishers a way to engage with a customer without requiring that massive initial purchase. If the game is good, getting some hands-on time can convince a customer to buy the game. Just as with mobile games, console games are facing the discovery problem, and rentals help solve that for publishers. “It gives them the ability to reach beyond the hardcore gamer,” Calnan said. “And it offers publishers an incremental revenue opportunity.”

Redbox has been trying some promotions in conjunction with publishers like Square Enix and Deep Silver. The promotions for Saints Row 4 and Thief led to an increase in incremental purchases from customers who normally wouldn’t identify as gamers. “There is still a very big emotional attachment to the physical media,” Calnan said. “And a lot of people have slow internet connections and can experience extremely long download times. So I think Redbox has a very strong place in the gaming industry.”

Source: Polygon