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Rent-By-Mail Service GameFly Files For IPO

Video game rent-by-mail subscription service GameFly has announced its filing for an initial public offering, revealing $85 million in revenues and 334,000 subscribers to its physical console game rental service.
Video game rent-by-mail subscription service GameFly has announced its filing for an initial public offering, with the intention of making its shares available for the public to buy for the first time since the company's 2002 founding. Although L.A.-based GameFly said it has yet to determine the number of shares and the price range for the offering, a regulatory filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission noted a proposed maximum aggregate offering price of $50 million. GameFly is working with investment firms Merrill Lynch and Piper Jaffray & Co. on the IPO. GameFly's subscription-based rent-by-mail service has customers pay a monthly fee, which gives them the ability to borrow from GameFly's 7,000-game catalog via a website, play a game for as long as they want (while still paying the subscription), and then mail it back in exchange for another rental--a model similar to the Netflix video rental services. As of September 30, 2009, GameFly said it had 334,000 subscribers. "We believe that online rental subscriptions will constitute a growing percentage of total video game-related expenditures and that our subscription service presents a compelling alternative for video game players who have historically either purchased video games or rented them from traditional retailers," the company said in its SEC filing. GameFly also said its revenues grew to $84.7 million for the fiscal year ended March 31, 2009, up from the $15.8 million generated in the fiscal year ended March 31, 2005--a compound annual growth rate of 52 percent, the company said. The subscriber base for the 2005 fiscal year was just 74,000. GameFly calculated a 45 percent compound annual growth rate for its subscriber base. The company said it plans on expanding its lead in the video game subscription rental market by focusing on attracting a larger amount of the 100 million U.S. console gamers (a figure reported by NPD Group), improving customer experience, building on its community, and expanding the reach of GameFly Media websites such as Shacknews.com. The filing added that investing in GameFly "involves a high degree of risk," such as the effects of possible lagging subscription growth, a customer base that opts for lower-cost subscription plans, and the possible inability to compete with pricing pressure. The "risk factors" section, which covers everything from the possibility of higher postage rates to possible adverse effects of an earthquake, also said, "If digital download or other technologies are more widely adopted and supported as a method of content delivery or other forms of online entertainment continue to grow in popularity, our business could be adversely affected" -- a caution that looms over any physical disc-based business.

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