Tales of the Rampant Coyote

Adventures in Indie Gaming!

Humble Indie Bundle Breaks $1 Million, Extends 3 Days, Goes Open Source

Posted by Rampant Coyote on May 12, 2010

Remember the “Humble Indie Bundle” I talked about last week? Well, it seems the pie-in-the-sky goal was hit in the final hour, by some generous donations well above the suggested retail price of the games in the bundle. It seems to many observers that some kind of significant milestone was achieved in the history of indie games, but we’re not exactly sure what it was. But the fact that these guys kicked serious butt cannot be overlooked:

The Humble Indie Bundle hit $1 million in sales, with over $300k going to charity.

Because of this, the offer has been extended an extra three days, and four of the games have pledged to  going open-source. Oh, and  my personal thanks to Chris W. who pointed out to me that Penumba: Overture included in the bundle included a coupon code to get the rest of the series for only $5. I hadn’t yet installed the game, so I hadn’t known about it. I did, took advantage of the sale, and picked up the entire series.

My  feeling is that the Humble Indie Bundle was both brilliant marketing and a very classy move (see? It’s possible to do both). So this little indie thing has, from my perspective, accomplished a number of pretty awesome things:

#1 – They’ve provided some serious donation money to the EFF and Child’s Play, two very worthy causes in my book. Society wins.

#2 – We gamers got a lot of games for (usually, depending on donation) pretty cheap. Or at least cheap enough for us. We paid what we could afford and felt was reasonable for some pretty cool games. The gamers win.

#3 – They managed to obtain a ton of exposure for indie games – theirs specifically, but indie games in general. We’ve got mainstream sites talking about this deal. And they’ll be talking even more about it now that these guys hit the magic million mark. And I’ll bet a lot of people who wouldn’t think twice about indie games have made modest donations and are now seeing what indie games can be. The indie games community wins.

#4 – They are now adding to the open source community. I don’t know that their game code for those going open source is going to be any major Event or anything there. But hey – maybe some new indie-to-be is going to learn their future trade / hobby studying the source code to Lugaru or Aquaria. This is good. Game programmers win.

#5 – My guess is the devs here made bank on this deal. On generally older games that had entered the long-tail phase. Gee, now why is it that maintaining your IP rights might be important? Some (like the Penumbra guys) also used it as a good marketing opportunity to sell more games, or at least let people know what new stuff they have in development. The developers win.

#6 – And finally – subtly, perhaps, but not insignificantly – these guys just kinda schooled us all on how indies can change the world. I’m not just talking the charities, here. I’m talking the whole enchilada, parts 1-4 above, as kind of the kid brother of what the Penny Arcade founders did with Child’s Play charity and PAX to the industry at large.  They went outside the box, publicized the crap outta what they were doing, and created a win / win / win scenario overall that was good for gamers, the developers, and society in general. They bypassed all middlemen  –  even game portals and digital content distributors. In fact, I think that’s really what made it work. They totally let their indie freak flag fly on this one. And they blew away even their own expectations. The indie community wins, again.

This, ladies and gentlemen, is how it is done. Not this way exactly – I don’t know if an exact clone of the Humble Indie Bundle thing would ever succeed again on such a scale. Or maybe it would, on an even bigger scale. I don’t know.  But for me, while this doesn’t necessarily represent any kind of game-changer, it does point out what kind of things are possible for some lowly indie game developers slaving away in their basements who might harbor a Big Audacious Goal and the creativity and will to carry it out.

Power to the indies!

And congrats to the Humble Indie Bundle guys! You deserve it!

Filed Under: Biz, Indie Evangelism - Comments: 10 Comments to Read

  • The Humble Indie Bundle said,

    […] Jay Barnson pointed out on the Rampant Coyote blog, they’ve shown how powerful some indies working together can be.  Without no marketing […]

  • Humility Brings Blessings « Tish Tosh Tesh said,

    […] Humble Indie Bundle Breaks $1 Million […]

  • Kimari said,

    And remember, on top of that, the consumers win, because they get to pay what they can afford. Are you a poor college student? No problem, pay what you can. Are you a foreginer that always gets screwed by the exchange rate? Yes, I am, and I payed what I could.

  • Kimari said,

    Woops, sorry, didn’t see point #2 xD

  • Sean w/o an H said,

    I think the “making bank” thing is one of the most amazing parts of this to me. These developers gave away games that range from 3-5 years old (I think Gish is the oldest – it won a 2005 award, if i remember correctly), games that were indeed “long tail” titles, and got (at the time of extension) $100,000 apiece. That’s fantastic seed money for an indie company.

    I also have to applaud Frictional for their sales strategies… it’s been a matter of necessity for them in the past (see their entry on The Perception of $100,000), but I think it’s an absolutely brilliant and unorthodox way of working… win / win / win indeed.

    Also – i’ve been watching for a pre-order on Amnesia, and by giving a *break* to their insiders (rather than asking them to pay a premium), they will recruit those elusive “1000 fans” – the ones who will proselytize for the game (like I find myself doing for Penumbra) and drive it into more mainstream attention.

    tl;dr – I agree with Jay – this can only be fantastic for indie games.

    Now, can we get a cheeky 16-bit RPG indie bundle soon? 😉

  • Rampant Coyote said,

    Heh – well, since I don’t personally make ’em, I don’t have much control over that or really be involved (unless I’m one of those “middlemen.” Or a charity. I could be a charity!) But I think a bundle deal involving Aldorlea, Amaranth, John Wizard, Warfare, and others (Hanako? Deadly Sin Studios? Blossomsoft?) would be totally rockin’!

  • DGM said,

    It’s not just long tail games. If I recall correctly, Toady was making decent income on voluntary donations for Dwarf Fortress years ago (and presumably still is today). That’s for a game still in development.

  • DAdvocate said,

    What were their bandwidth fees like though? Total download was about 700-800mb for all of the games IIRC. Sure, not everyone downloaded all of the games but a bunch of pirates took advantage also.

  • Rampant Coyote said,

    I dunno. I did see that they very politely asked the pirates (and the bundle WAS pirated) download the games from some place other than their server….

  • Humble Customer said,

    Well, this shows what you can do if you approach your customers in an intelligent way.

    I agree that this cannot be your primary business model but there is something I’d like to add. Traditional pricing assumes that you are a dedicated gamer who will play the game for all it is worth. People who get easily bored or frustrated might experience a totally different fun / $ ratio. Interestingly, this is an audience AAA companies can’t even think about targeting.

    I wish The Spirit Engine 2 had been part of the bundle. It’s free to download and you can donate any amount you see fit.