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Creating A Humble Indie Bundle

The pair of Humble Indie Bundles released in 2010 not only provided gamers a service in packaging together anticipated independent titles at a self-determined price, but raised upwards of one million dollars for charitable causes. Speaking to the success of the promotions at a panel this morning, organizers John Graham and Jeffrey Rosen of Wolfire Games/Humble Bundle Inc. shared stories about the process from conceptualization to implementation.

As indie developers themselves, both Graham and Rosen had eyes on the indie scene before creating the project, taking note of  Steam's wildly successful practice of packaging games together at a discounted price. They also found inspiration in fellow indie development house 2D Boy, which released its own pay-as-you-want promotion for World of Goo. Deciding a bundle of indie games had massive potential, the question then became how they would differentiate their promotion from similar offerings. To do so, they added more games, committed to Mac and Linux support, added charity contributions to the mix, and released source code for a handful of the titles.

Getting developers on board was relatively difficult prior to the success of the first promotion, as the already meager studios had to commit to essentially giving their games away for free in addition to meeting the Mac/Linux requirement. The risk was worth the reward in the end, however. Check out some interesting Humble Bundle tidbits below.

  • Traditional press outlets didn’t garner as much attention for the promotion as the viral nature of social networking tools. Reddit was the outlet that drove the most traffic to the bundles, with Facebook and Twitter also contributing in a significant way.
  • The first Humble Indie Bundle netted $250,000 in the first 24 hours. The second bundle doubled the revenue with $500,000 the first day.
  • Humble Indie Bundle drew to a close with over 9,000 purchases for only a penny. The second bundle tallied nearly 30,000 penny purchases, although the promotion was still considered a success.
  • One individual bought the second bundle 1,736 times for a penny a piece. The promotion organizers assume that he or she was reselling the codes but were not willing to put a limit on the number of purchases.
  • The promotion still fell victim to piracy. When anonymously surveyed as to why individuals decided to pirate the titles instead of naming their price, many responded that credit cards or electronic payments were not easily accessible in their particular country. As a result, the bundle administrators and supporters of the promotion began to purchase and gift the games to those who indicated they couldn’t gain access to it on their own.
  • A customer breakdown showed that Linux users were donating the most money to the bundles. Making these stats public seemed to fuel a competitive boost in sales from other platform users.
  • Linux users also seemed to allocate more of their donation to developers, and preferred aiding the EFF over Child’s Play.
  • After releasing the open source codes for bundle games, donation percentages to the developers increased in value.
  • Mac and Linux purchases combined for 50 percent of the revenue for both bundles.
  • Gmail users are apparently more generous than individuals with Yahoo or Hotmail accounts.
  • The second bundle allowed users to go back and increase their donation amount without splitting it between two purchases, accounting for a notable increase in sales.
  • Steam code support was the number one customer request during the first promotion. Steam agreed to support codes for the second bundle without charge, increasing its user base in the process.
  • Total sales for The Humble Indie Bundle #1 came in at $1.2 million. The final number for the second bundle is $1.8 million. With all said and done, the pair of Humble Indie Bundles raised $3 million in donations, with a third of the earnings going to charity.

Moving forward, neither Graham or Rosen expect the promotion to lose steam [har, har –Ed.]. The creators are already being inundated with requests from developers to have their games packaged in the inevitable third bundle, and are being particularly stringent in their selections to ensure quality is still paramount.

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