Wednesday, 6 November 2013

Blockbusted: Blockbuster Shuts Down for Good

(c) AP

It seems that video rental chain Blockbuster is finally set to have the plug pulled and have the remains cremated.

Blockbuster LLC, the video-rental company now owned by Dish Network Corp. (DISH), will close its remaining 300 U.S. stores, ending an era for a retail chain that was once a hallmark of shopping centers across the country.

I didn't know Blockbuster still had 300 stores opened, did you?

Unlike most of the hipsters on Twitter who are laughing at the corpse, braying "I told you so! OMG NETFLIX KILLED YOU HAHA!", I prefer to have fond memories of Blockbuster Video.

Yes, Blockbuster failed to adapt to the new digital age, but it doesn't mean that I can't appreciate the role it had in my life.

It is quite strange to see such a large company just completely disappaear. Blockbuster outlets were pretty much EVERYWHERE, and Blockbuster was one of North America's biggest entertainment companies. Before the internet, filing sharing, rampant PPV usage, and easy CD copying, Blockbuster (or Rogers Video) provided the go-to place to get some at-home entertainment.

Here is how I'll remember Blockbuster:

  • When I was first dating my wife, we'd often go to the nearby outlet and rent a movie or two for the night, or get the occasional video game. It gave us a chance to go for a nice walk and cozy up on the couch for a night in. We somewhat homebodies, so a Blockbuster night, especially on a cold, rainy Vancouver night, was just perfect.

  • When I was a kid, I couldn't afford to buy too many video games. I could, however, afford to rent many games for a couple of days. I'd often rent RPGs and just plough through them in the short time I had to rent. These were the days a RPG could be finished in about 20 hours, and not 100.

  • Blockbuster, especially near the end, often had sales on used games and movies. This was a good chance to get some really good deals that you couldn't get elsewhere.

  • The Tangible: I find it much more satisfying and easier to browse through a physical inventory. Sometimes, you'd come across a movie you hadn't seen or heard of before, and it may turn out to be a hidden gem. It's much harder to browse online than it is in person.

  • The Pain: Spoiled kids these days don't know what it is like to have the movie or game you want OUT. Yes, we had to experience the pain of not always getting what we wanted. It made us appreciate what we did have.

  • Try before you buy: For video games, it's often hard to get demo versions. Renting a game was a good chance to try it out before plunking down $60 on it. Of course, these were the days before free/freemium games came about. 

  • The Con: My friend and I really wanted to rent Final Fantasy, but were a bit short on cash. Blockbuster tagged certain games with different colours, with one colour being the premium games (more expensive) and others being older games. 

    In order to be able to rent the game, my friend changed the tag on the Final Fantasy to be marked as an older game. The clerk said that the game was marked as premium, but, since the game was clearly tagged as an older game, she changed it in the system and we *just* managed to afford the rental. I felt so dirty, yet so devious.
Farewell, Blockbuster, and thanks for the good times.