Forget About 99 Cents, What If You Could Rent Mobile Games for 25 Cents?

T-Mobile USA is teaming up with WildTangent to test out a Netflix-like model for renting mobile games on Android smartphones.

Instead of having to purchase a game without knowing if it’s any good, users will have the ability to rent the game for a day. The fee can then be applied to the full purchase price if you choose to buy.

The games service is launching later this year with several unnamed developers on both Android-powered smartphones and tablets.

T-Mobile, which is attending E3 for the first time ever this week, will market and promote the app among its current subscribers, and will embed it on new Android devices going forward. It will also enable carrier billing for making purchases inside the app.

Matt Shea, WildTangent’s EVP of product development, tells me that it’s a lot like their PC games service, which allows people to play online and social games through a subscription plus advertising model.

Users can either buy or subscribe to a set number of “WildCoins,” a virtual currency within the service that’s used for both in-game items and rentals. Additionally, users will have the option of watching short advertisements for free game sessions and in-game items.

It’s a model that attracts 20 million monthly active users on the PC, and has benefited greatly from being embedded on new computers.

Shea makes the claim that this is not another app store.

“We have no interest in being an app store,” he said. “We see an opportunity that addresses the challenges of discoverability inside a cluttered and overly sourced app store with poor advertising choices.”

As for how much games will cost to rent, there’s a range of prices depending on how much the game costs. But packages of coins can cost anywhere from $3.99 to $9.99 a month, and a one-day rental fee could cost about 25 cents.

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I think the NSA has a job to do and we need the NSA. But as (physicist) Robert Oppenheimer said, “When you see something that is technically sweet, you go ahead and do it and argue about what to do about it only after you’ve had your technical success. That is the way it was with the atomic bomb.”

— Phil Zimmerman, PGP inventor and Silent Circle co-founder, in an interview with Om Malik