When did Humble Bundles turn slightly less humble?
I want to start right off the bat by saying the following piece is merely an observational article. I’m not saying that what you’re about to read has any positive or negative implications, because, frankly, I still haven’t made up my mind about it. It’s just something I noticed that I wanted to point out. Some of you may have noticed it as well. It probably didn’t affect you much. It didn’t affect me much, either. Still, I need to say it and hopefully it will lead to a discussion which will make things clearer for everyone interested.
We all know what Humble Bundle is, right? The revolutionary concept through which you pay-what-you-want for a pre-packaged set of PC games (or, more recently, Android games, music and even e-books) available for a limited time only every once in a while, with the option of splitting your donation between the developers of said games, various charities (Electronic Frontier Foundation, Child’s Play Foundation, the American Red Cross and more) and the Humble Bundle team itself. The concept was born in 2010 and it turned out to be a massive hit, succeeding in raising literally tens of millions of dollars for charity. An amazing achievement, for sure, and I stand in awe at the way gamers and developers are able to join their efforts for a noble cause.
Now, here’s my dumb gripe that probably makes me a horrible person just by thinking about it. Remember how Humble Bundles worked back in the day? You’d pay at least $1 and, for that contribution, you received a bunch of indie games. Paying more than that was entirely your choice – some people were (and still are) happy to donate hundreds of dollars for a single bundle – and it didn’t lend you any extra benefits, except maybe for a comfortable place in Heaven and a buttload of good karma. Wait, are these concepts mutually exclusive? Never mind. The point is you could get a bunch of cool games for just $1.
Fast forward to 2014 and things have changed quite a bit. Instead of only offering a Humble Indie Bundle every few months, the good folks at Humble Bundle are constantly cranking out new Bundles almost every month and have added Weekly Bundles and even the Humble Store, offering games at discounted prices, 10% of which goes straight to charity. Moreover, fans were recently treated to 14 consecutive daily bundles, each featuring deals that were only available for one day. Pretty sweet, huh?
This is where I started noticing something, and the best way to describe it is by using a real example. The game Hammerwatch was part of a daily bundle. However, you were required to pay more than the average amount of $7.84 to actually receive the game. If you paid anything less than this amount, you would only receive the soundtrack and an art pack for the game. So $1, which would net you a handful of games back in 2010-2011, now only afforded you a bunch of mp3’s and some concept art. And so did paying anything below $7.85. What’s weird is that, on the 19th of May 2014, while this offer was still active, Hammerwatch popped up in the Humble Store too, at the price of $2. So you could get the game either at $2 or $7.85 on the same day, on the Humble Bundle website. Also worth mentioning is that the full, undiscounted price for Hammerwatch is roughly around $12.
So, what am I saying? Well, as I mentioned in the disclaimer at the start of this post, I don’t know what the hell I’m saying. I guess I’m complaining that the good old days, when you’d get a bunch of sweet games for just $1, are gone, and that now you must pay a whole lot more to actually unlock the games that are put up for grabs. In fact, different price points have become the norm for Humble Bundle. Most bundles will feature a few games for pay-what-you-want, then some more, possibly better known games for beating the average price, and still more games if you’re willing to pay at least $10 to $15, depending on the Bundle. Obviously, this means more money going to charity, which can only be good. But charities were still racking up millions of dollars in donations when the old system was in place so, to my mind, the only thing that’s changed is the rewards that paying customers are granted. Don’t get me wrong, I appreciate getting some games at a discounted price, while being able to help charities at the same time. But, to someone who has been buying Humble Bundles since 2010, paying $7.84 and only receiving a few drawings and some mp3’s seems kinda lousy.
This whole thing probably boils down to the following: yes, back in the day, you could get several games for just $1, but Humble Bundles were few and far between. Nowadays, there’s a Humble Bundle available virtually every day of the year, offering tons of variety – only you have to pay a bit more for each one and sometimes you end up with weird situations like the Hammerwatch one described above. Still, Humble Bundle rules!
What’s your take on all this? Do you enjoy the higher frequency of Humble Bundles? Do the required price points annoy you? How many bundles are too many? Sound off in the comments below.