Everyone loves indie bundles, right? A few cool games you may or may not have heard of for a dollar, and even more for $3-5. They started out slow but have picked up speed and now allow a lot of gamers to accrue decent game collections for budget prices. But as with many things, popularity can be poison.
Traditionally, bundles allowed developers of little known games to get their content seen by a larger audience – in exchange for a slashed price. However, it has become clear lately that the massive audience now following the likes of Humble Bundle have been taken notice of by bigger fish. One notable recent example is the Deep Silver Humble bundle, featuring the games Saints Row 2 and The Third, an obvious advertisement for Saints Row 4 that was to be released less than a month after the bundle. They also included Metro 2033 to encourage people to grab the newer (and much more expensive) Metro: Last Light. But is this really a bad thing? I’m sure that gamers are more than happy to have access to some of the most valuable bundles released so far, but I can’t help feeling that we’re losing the spirit of the original bundle. Humble Bundle have even changed their name from ‘Humble Indie Bundle’ to reflect their new approach. I still remember the fuss when the first non-indie bundle was released – the THQ bundle, but many saw this as way to help a struggling developer. This is far away from the current scenario, however, as Deep Silver certainly need no help in advertising the Saints Row series, that was confirmed last year to have sold over 11 million copies.
I feel a little sorry for the indie developers that have to try to abuse every possible avenue of advertising to make their game profitable, while multimillion dollar publishers are stealing one of their most valuable platforms. On the other hand, a massive portion of Humble Bundles income goes to charity and no doubt the rocketing sales attributed to these non-indie bundles have done a lot of good. Even the recent Origin bundle featuring Sims 3 and Battlefield 3, an attempt to advertise Sims 4, Battlefield 4, and repair some of the terrible reputation of EA, is offering the entirety of its profits to charities such as the Red Cross and Human Rights Campaign. I suppose the types of games offered by Humble Bundle is a small price to pay for the $9.5 million and counting currently made for charity by EA. Also, one of the best features of Humble Bundle is that you can choose how much of your money goes to the developer/publisher, and how much goes to charity, so you can buy guilt-free. Meanwhile we have other bundles like Indie Royale and Groupees to pick up the slack for indie games. Humble Bundle stated that, “Opportunities like the Humble Origin Bundle are simply neat things we can do in addition to traditional bundles”, and while I am skeptical about whether or not they will take advantage of the barrage of publisher interest, I am hopeful that they will stick to this.
On a slightly different topic, there’s another reason that some people have been angered by recent bundles. I was happy to grab Zelda-like Ittle Dew in the Groupees Be Mine 9 bundle recently, but was horrified when I realised that the game has only been out on Steam for a month. The bundle is $5, cutting a total of $8.99 off of the store price of the game, and includes 10 other games! In the same bundle was Eador: Masters of the Broken World which has enraged many as it was available for preorder only 4 months ago. It even came with Eador: Genesis that was also given as a preorder bonus. It’s getting to the point now where many are reluctant to buy indie games for fear that they will end up in a bundle within a few months.