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January 03, 2012

The Humble Indie Bundle: Reasons To Buy, Things To Think About

Hoping to strike up some conversation with fellow Cerebral Pop writers, I emailed everyone asking for their thoughts on the ubiquitous Humble Indie Bundle for a roundtable discussion. Much to my surprise, not many of the staff had purchased any of the bundles. Some said the only have access to a Mac; others were skeptical of the frequency of these bundles; and others voiced concerns that it has turned into a sort of elitist club for indie games.

All of these are completely valid arguments against purchasing the bundle.

However, I’d like to impose some arguments for purchasing the bundle, even if you don’t plan on playing any of the games. Here’s why:


I can’t speak for everyone here, but for me personally I’ve never given to charity. I’ve always thought about it, thought about how easy it would be to toss five bucks to one, but actually doing it? Not me. Now, admittedly, I like getting something free for helping out, as it were, which is what got me interested in the Humble Bundle to begin with. Pay what I want for some games I wouldn’t normally buy, and I get to help out some charities? I jumped on the opportunity.

And when I had to divide up the amount I was giving between a couple of charities, the developers of the games I was getting for donating, and the guys that organized the whole thing, I realized that my measly dollar wasn’t going very far; call it a guilt trip, but it worked: I gave a bit more then I had initially intended to. Honestly, I felt good about it, too, which is the best feeling I’ve ever gotten from buying a game.


Even if you don’t plan on playing any of the games yourself, you can actually gift the entire bundle to one of your friends; or even a complete stranger. This sort of goes along with giving to charity in that doing a good deed doesn’t always have to benefit the person giving. Or, you can even purchase it for yourself and someone else.

The Games

This is the biggest selling point for the Humble Bundle. They gather up some great games, some more popular than others, and ask people to pay whatever they want. And it’s always a great deal. Most of the games are newer indie games that alone cost ten bucks or more.

The neat thing, I believe, is that it’s a great way for an indie developer not only to make some money, but to get their name out to gamers. If it’s a good game, people will not only play it, but talk about it and possibly tell their friends to get it. Oh, and I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention that none of the games have DRM attached to them. Which is great news, I believe.

The Issues

Let’s get back to the originally mentioned issues that the guys had. For starters, it appears that every game I’ve purchased in the various bundles has a Mac and a Linux version available for download. They may not all register on Steam, but having the option to choose which platform to play the games on is a huge bonus in my book.

Next, let’s discuss the frequency. When I started writing this, the fourth bundle hadn’t come out yet; now that it has, I will admit that there seems to be a gamut of bundles available (The Humble Bundle, Indie Royale, The Indie Gala, and Little Big Bunch *phew*). All of the bundles feature great games, some benefit charity; honestly, I haven’t bought all of them as I do think these things are coming a bit too fast. I begrudgingly admit this is a valid point. I will point out, however, that new games come out all the time, so even if you’re not interested in a current bundle, there may be a future one that tickles your fancy.

Which brings me to my own personal issue with these bundles: if all the good indie games are going to be bundled, why would I buy them when they’re originally released? For me personally, there have been a few occasions that I’ve bought an indie game I was excited about only to have it featured in one of the bundles.

Why would I pay full price for one of these indie games when I can just pay what I want (possibly) in a few short weeks or months? I could argue with myself (but I won’t ‘cause that’s crazy) that it would still benefit charity, and I could always give away copies of duplicate games. Something to chew on, I guess.

Finally, I also kind of agree about it turning in to an elitist thing; but I also sort of disagree. On the one hand, the games featured in the Humble Bundle are usually more of the mainstream indie games. Not always, but usually. On the other hand, even some of the bigger name indie games are actually made by a very small team that are just scraping by; they aren’t elitist, but they see the Humble Bundle as an opportunity to continue making games that they’re passionate about.

If you haven’t bought a Humble Indie Bundle in the past, I hope this has changed your mind. Or at least gave you something to think about. If you have bought one of the bundles, we here at Cerebral Pop would love to know what you think. Let us know in the comments!


Harold Burnett said...

You bring up some really good points. I also have the worry that these bundles will become the only channel for indie gaming.

Maybe we need some large network of indie games,a place where everyone agrees to go and at least talk and show off their game.I'm not that super into Indie gaming maybe this place already exist.

luis said...

As someone who isn't a hardcore gamer, or even a big gamer in general, I do really appreciate someone bundling a variety of indie games together to expand my gaming horizons. Yet, something still puts me off, or intimidates me about these bundles. It may just be that I know I don't have the time to dedicate to that kinda stuff, who knows? But with Indie gaming seemingly on the rise, isn't it a good thing the bundles are coming more frequently so more people can experience a wider variety of games?

oh and charity. Charity is always good for karma points! :)

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