Apr 162011
The Not So Humble Bundle

Ever play or even hear of Indie games? Many have not but a little piece of humble pie and some marketing genius has brought them into the limelight. Indie games aren’t a type of game but rather a classification of any game that is developed and distributed without a large video game publisher behind it. At first glance you think,

Big deal, if someone has a good enough game it will sell regardless.

Alas, it isn’t quite that easy. There are a good number of independent (hence indie) game developers out there without deep pockets hence getting your game known to the world, despite its merits, can be quite challenging. Enter the Humble Bundle. First started in May of 2010, the idea was to get a group of these indie games together as a bundle and sell them for… wait for it… whatever you want to pay! What?! That’s stupid, crazy, and will drive these guys straight out of business? No? It raised $1.27 million dollars total and the actual developers of the game ended up with roughly $166,000 each. This is GREAT money for an independent game developer.
Now why did the developers get so much less? Well that’s part of the beauty and genius of this system. Not only do you pay what you want but you also can divide up what you pay to a few different parties:

  • Child’s Play – a charity that brings video games to hospitalized children and helps to fight the stigma of video games
  • Electronic Frontier Foundation – Defender of digital rights.  Aligns with these Indie games that are all released DRM-free.
  • Humble Bundle, Inc. – the company that develops the promotion, pays for the site/server and bandwidth needed to run it all.

By default the amount you enter is divided up with 55% going to the developers and then 15% each to the above mentioned parties.  The option to give to charity and divide the money however you wish I think are just 2 more things that help drive traffic and sales.  These bundles might be humble in the context of the small teams that create them, but this sales and distribution method is epic.  The second humble indie bundle was launched in December of 2010 and by the time it ended there was $1.8 million raised.  There is now a third humble indie bundle but its being called the Humble Frozenbyte Bundle since all the included games in this round are from the indie developer Frozenbyte.

Another great thing about these games is that they are multi-platform.   It’s not very easy to find games that will work on Windows, Mac, and Linux.  When you “buy” these via the Humble Bundle you get a link to download all the different games for all the different platforms.  In theory this link will be available for a long time but it’d be wise to download any/all that you think you will ever want and save locally.

There are a lot of things the Humble Bundle did to form a synergy of sorts, driving traffic, sales, and making all parties involved earn some money they would have otherwise never seen.  I hope this model not only continues but can spread to other games and even completely different markets.