The Humble Bundle

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By Matthew Maravilla

We’re college students, right? Not everyone can afford to get to play a boatload of great games that keep coming out each year. That especially includes independent games as they might look inexpensive but there are just so many of them that one’s wallet starts to feel very, very light. That’s why indie game developers thought of a new way to get people to buy their games. Thus, the Humble Bundle was born.

It started as an idea from the guys at Wolfire Games (the people behind the upcoming Overgrowth) who wanted a way to help publicize and support the indie developers out there. What Humble Bundle also did was allow people to pay what they want, normally for 4-5 games, without DRM (not like indie games even have DRM) which led to some really bad hi-jinx at the start of the sales. Not trying to sound like a history lesson, but basically Humble Bundle has since been selling loads of games at around $7 on average per bundle, while also supporting charity and video game-related lobbyists.

What should you think of the Humble Bundle sale? For starters, the fact you haven’t heard about them yet is kind of funny. Think about it, it’s a sale where someone can potentially get over a $100 worth of games for the price of a dollar, or roughly $5 if you were a bit late. Games provided in the service range from newcomers to all the top indies, which were featured in Humble Bundle 5 (my first bundle, I might add) and included Super Meat boy, Braid, Bastion, Super Brothers: Sword & Scorcery EP, Lone Survivor, and Amnesia: The Dark Descent.

Currently, the Humble Bundle sales are featuring a bunch of other developers by giving them weekly Humble Bundle sales, which are pretty awesome as it does help market these various developers, like last week’s feature Blendo Games. There have also been recent developments in having little jams where people can choose what a company will work on next while getting a chance to try out prototypes. Overall, the Humble Bundle has been doing a lot to get more people shown off while allowing gamers to play some pretty awesome games.

This doesn’t mean that I don’t have any problems with the service. Where the group talks about showing off more developers, I’ve noticed in the last 5 Humble Bundle sales, the same games were featured multiple times. Those games include the Binding of Isaac (a game I reviewed last semester), Super Brothers: Sword and Sorcery EP, and Super Crayon Deluxe. Now, if you were to take a quick glance at the bundle’s Wikipedia page, you’ll notice that they also had a bunch of developer bundles ranging from Amanarta Design to Voxatron, but that doesn’t change the fact that the main bundles and the Android bundles are somewhat biased to put up games that almost every indie gamer already has. Where are the indie games that don’t get as much recognition? I was surprised that Antichamber and Proteus haven’t gotten some spotlight yet in a debut or weekly bundle. The Bridge was featured along with Atom Zombie Smasher (a game being sold right now) and I haven’t heard anything back on it. Waveform, Symphony, Anodyne, To The Moon, FTL, Hotline Miami, and other great games have also yet to see the inside of a Humble Bundle is like.

I believe the problem this stems from isn’t so much the matter of favoritism but more of a belief that no one plays indie games. Now, that’s completely wrong. Some of the most purchased games on Steam are indie games. Braid and Super Meat Boy have sold more than a million copies. Minecraft was able to fund a company’s whole game development lifetime. League of Legends has become the next huge e-sport and doesn’t look like it’s stopping anytime soon. And has anyone not heard of FTL? Starting as a Kickstarter game, it’s gone pretty far and led to huge successes. Also, Skullgirls got the help of a company overseas, a feat no western indie developer has ever accomplished before.

There is business sense in having popular games prominently featured in a sale, especially when people are more likely to buy the bundle for those highly-recognized games, but the sale is also missing out on selling a bunch of other games, a lot of which have been taking the video game industry by storm. People should still look into the Humble Bundle because it is a great way to discover new games, but I just wish there was more variety.

About The Author

Matthew Maravilla

A game designer/developer who's only trying to make sense of all of the things he's doing through writing about those things or just plain doing them.

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