Game rentals have come to online distribution service Direct2Drive. As Rock, Paper, Shotgun reports, a $5 rental will get you access to five hours of gameplay. The game selection is quite limited at the moment, including only Silent Hill: Homecoming, GRID, FEAR, and Divinity 2, but the concept is an interesting one. If, after five hours, you decide you like the game enough to purchase it outright, the rental fee will get knocked off the total price.
A dollar an hour seems a little high, especially considering that cloud-gaming service OnLive offers half-hour sessions for free. OnLive also has a rental scheme that grants users access to full releases for three or five days for $3-9. Playing games remotely via OnLive isn't quite the same as running them on your own computer, though. The YouTube-quality graphics and noticeable latency definitely sully the experience. To be fair, the OnLive does offer a much larger catalog of rental options.
Direct2Drive may be onto something with its rental approach, but it's hard to take the current selection seriously. $5 for five hours with GRID feels a whole lot like highway robbery when the entire game can be bought for just $13 on Amazon. You don't need to pay anything to try the free demo, which was released way back in the summer of 2008. Direct2Drive's rental scheme may have a better shot at success with newer releases that haven't been accompanied by free demos.