So, another Humble Bundle is out, but the original point of the bundles seems to be disappearing. Is this a step backward or a step forward? Is this a good thing or not? I may not have the answers, but I have opinions.
Alright, so for those of you who don’t already know, the new Humble Bundle, which has been released VERY shortly after the last one, is the Humble Origin Bundle. This includes (at the time of writing) Dead Space, Dead Space 3 (although not 2 for some reason), Burnout Paradise: The Ultimate Box, Crysis 2 Maximum Edition, Medal of Honor and Mirrors Edge. If you pay over the average (about $5 as of writing) you get The Sims 3 (plus the starter pack) and Battlefield 3.
Now for anyone who has been living under a rock the past few years, the whole point of the humble bundle, as the song goes, “Pay What You Want, DRM-Free, Cross Platform, Helps Charity”. This new bundle has removed both the DRM-Free aspect and the Cross platform part of the idea (not to mention the whole Indie thing not being there).
Now in the past many of the games have been available through steam, which is DRM, however there was almost always the option to download direct from the humble bundle site, however that is not an option with this bundle (as far as I know, and I’ve been looking). Now you have the option to download everything with Origin, with the alternate option of steam for SOME of the games. Also, as far as I am aware, the only game with mac support is The Sims 3, and the others are windows only.
This is obviously bad for a good deal of people (including the humble bundle and charities, because Linux users, on average, paid the most for their bundles), however there are some positive points. Firstly, EA is taking no cut (as far as I know), and instead all the money goes to charities and the humble site. This is a very nice gesture, especially since bundles usually generate a ton of money by farming all the people who didn’t buy games because of the price, as of the time of writing (on the first day of the bundle), the cash generated is $1,801,222.74 and rising fast. Although there are more charities to split the money between, this is nothing to scoff at.
And now we reach the point where I would like to discuss the whole ‘Indie’ aspect of the bundles. Right now what seems to be happening is that more and more AAA bundles are being released as normal bundles, and the indies are getting the weekly sales. I actually think this is a pretty good way to handle things. The main bundles usually happen when there is some kind of event (for example, THQ going under), or relatively rarely. The weekly sales give indies a chance to get a spotlight on their previous titles and whatever their new game is, and this work in a fairly quick (weekly, in fact) rotation. This means plenty of studios that may have gone completely under the radar can have their own (slightly less high profile) humble bundle, while the occasional, big bundles go to either AAA games, or groups of different indie studios.
My only problem is the loss of the option of a DRM free copy of the games, and the cross-platform compatibility. If those were in there, I would say full steam ahead and let AAA bundles go forth, but unfortunately I can’t see many AAA publishers letting people have DRM free copies of their games. The only way I could see this happening is if the Humble Bundle guys said “we’re sticking to the original rules of the bundles” and only allowed games which are both DRM free (although possibly with the option of a DRM client such as Steam of Origin) and with all the games being available on Windows, Mac and Linux.
At this point I think publishers may (because of the enormous amounts of money the bundles make) put up a bundles of their old games, ones which they are no longer concerned about people pirating. This may we countered by the amount of money the studio actually gets, as the money is divided according to the wishes of each buyer, and many people like to give more to charity than to a AAA games publisher or developing house.
Also, once again EA have underestimated the amount of people their servers will have to deal with, and because of this, the internet is currently awash with people complaining that the redemption functions of the origin site and client will continue to load indefinitely. This is most likely (as far as I can tell) because of hundreds of thousands of people trying to redeem bundle codes all at once. I would recommend that you all redeem your steam codes now, and wait a couple of days until the big rush of people who purchased their bundles straight after getting emails from the humble bundle website has gone, and the servers have less people to deal with. Hopefully this will not be an issue in a few days when this has all calmed down a little bit.
Well, that’s my 2 cents (or in the case of this bundle, my 5 pounds). All in all, I think while this bundle has some problems (in my opinion the lack of Mac & Linux support being chief among them), if you are on windows and don’t mind Origin, this is a good bundle to pick up. All the money is going to charity or the humble bundle site, and there are some really great games there. I would say pick it up if you are at all interested. You can get it at www.humblebundle.com and remember, it only lasts 2 weeks!