SwapGame offer the largest catalogue of titles for all the major games consoles in Europe, fast turnaround and an easy to use site.
Launched in 2003, SwapGame claim to be the UK's largest games rental company, and in terms of raw numbers of titles (7,700+), they certainly deliver, though keep in mind that many of these are for older systems like the PS2 and Gamecube--the top few UK rental companies are all comparable in their stocks of new releases for the current consoles.
We're impressed by SwapGame's new site design, unveiled in June 2009, with a better layout and streamlined functions like drag and drop functionality for adding games to your queue. They also note that shipping is quicker, and the majority of users will get one of their top three choices. There are also minor extras, like the ability to post game comments/reviews on the site customised with your own avatar as well as a Twitter feed. The top reviewer of the month gets a free game. There are also many more trailers and screenshots than before.
Unlike some sites which email you the instructions (or more often than not, forget to email you), SwapGame allows instructions for each game to be downloaded directly from their site. Other features include a month's free games rental for referring a friend, gift subscriptions, and the opportunity to keep games by buying them for a reasonable price--they will then mail you the box and instructions.
We've heard a few complaints about SwapGame--namely that the site can be a little slow--but it is easy to use, includes online reviews and ratings of the games, including screenshots, games trailers, age ratings and classifications. We especially like their personalised game recommendations based on a member's rental patterns, taste, and ratings (powered by their "GameMatch" technology). Their site also offers easy browsing, with 10 genres, and keyword searches by platform.
You can also purchase rental games--the only service to allow sale of every title they stock--for up to 50% off retail price, with new boxes and instructions. Likewise there is a new trade in function, where you can send your used games to them and get £2.50 up to £32.00 depending on the age/popularity of the game. We believe Swapgame is the first game service to implement this feature, and it beats the hassle of selling on ebay or going to the high street, as you get instant credit for the games and can use that to buy other titles. Swapgame also now offers the UK's first video game rental charts which are dynamically generated from their membership base to show the most popular rentals.
Turnaround time is good on the whole. They mail games from a centralized distribution center in the West Midlands, and aim to generally achieve next day delivery, Royal Mail allowing. We are pleased that Swapgame has a customer service phone lines instead of the online support many companies stick to--hours are Monday to Friday 9am to 6:30pm. Likewise, they've upgraded their customer service mail address to a FREEPOST one. However, judging from customer comments by visitors to our site, SwapGame's customer service lets the side down a bit--and therefore since 2008 we have ranked them third best in the UK vice their previous number one spot. That said, we think they've improved of late and are impressed with the June 2009 site redesign, so added a half star to their design rating.
Swapgame has a compelling startup story. It was founded in 2003 by Marc Day, who was waiting in line at a video store, frustrated he hadn't had enough time to finish the game he'd been renting. As he had just finished studying business at university, he decided to start a company renting video games (the first one to do so in the UK), and the company has gone from strength to strength since then.
Prices: SwapGame offer three rental packages, at one game-at-a-time for £9.99 per month, two for £14.99, and they have launched a one total game out for the month for only £3.99 (very cheap, but you'd really hope you got that one title from the top of your list and it didn't turn out to be a dud). They used to offer 10-day free trials, but have switched in 2009 to half price for your first month's subscription.