Well, I've just purchased another Humble Bundle, this time with the game Voxatron. Just looking at the statistics, it's already made $210,943.12 for the game's developer and charity and it still has 13 days to go. The previous bundle made over $1.2 million (techdirt.com, 2011). So what is it?
The idea for the Humble Bundles came from Wolfire Games' Jeff Rosen, with the first being released in May 2010. Rosen's idea was to offer a bundle of games for download in a pay-what-you-want manner. The whole package could be purchased for any price the user wanted and the total amount donated could be split between developers, charities and the Humble Bundle itself. It was a huge success, generating over $1 million in donations. The bundles always contain games that are available for Linux, Mac and Windows platforms.
The current statistics make interesting reading. As the time of writing, there have been a total of 57,310 purchases with the average donation being $3.70. The average donation for Windows users is $3.19, for Mac Is $5.18 and the highest, Linux, is $6.80. This is a trend that seems to pervade each bundle – generosity from lowest to highest being Windows, Mac and Linux. There is also a league table of highest donations. Notch (better known as Marcus Persson of Minecraft fame) currently tops this list with a donation of $2,000 for this bundle. For previous bundles, donations as high as $4,096.00 have been seen (blog.humblebundle.com, 2011).
So why is this such a big deal? Well, the fact that the games are DRM free is one noteworthy point. There is no copy protection or locking of the game to one computer – once you have purchased it, it's yours. But still, even without anti-piracy measures, people are still buying these bundles in their thousands. I think that the fact that people can see exactly where there money is going (and even the fact that they can choose) makes a big difference.
We are all used to paying for music, games etc and having no idea to whom this money is actually going. What's worse is that quite often once we've "purchased" our music or software, we never feel like we own it completely. If we change our computer, what we've purchased will no longer work without unlocking it again (and then there are restrictions). The fact that these bundles are completely DRM free is a definite plus-point for me.
So it just goes to show, we can lock people in to very rigid usage policies and continually battle the pirates, or we can move away from all this and offer something like the Humble Bundles. Anybody can pay what they want for the bundles and even pirate them fairly easily, but still they make millions of dollars for the developers and charities. Personally, I'd much rather buy a game like this than a normal game and I'd definitely not consider pirating any of them. For me, the full ownership and control of where my money actually goes is the winning formula.
In the time of writing, the bundle has just increased its total donations by $2,864.40, all of which will be on its way to the game's developer, charities and the upkeep of the Bundle soon.