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Still humble?
November 29, 2012 12:23 PM   Subscribe

The Humble Indie Bundle made its name by offering pay-what-you-want pricing for DRM-free, cross-platform collections of independent games, but the latest bundle merits a double-take: it's Windows-only, requires Steam activation, and features seven titles by major publisher THQ. The Bundle has already experimented with music and ebooks, and a past indie bundle included the EA-published Shank. But despite promises that indie games are still "a core of our business," is the latest foray into AAA gaming a step in the wrong direction?
posted by Tubalcain (89 comments total) 6 users marked this as a favorite

 
Don't like it, don't buy it? I don't understand the fuss here. This distribution channel is still available to indies, it's not like Humble Bundle went AAA only. It's neat to see THQ take a stab at it. Plate of beans, indeed.
posted by GilloD at 12:28 PM on November 29, 2012 [11 favorites]


If Humble Bundle somehow decides to not release "indie" bundles anymore (and there is no indication of that), then someone else will.
posted by Brocktoon at 12:30 PM on November 29, 2012 [1 favorite]


Considering THQ's recent history (i.e. delaying all their upcoming games because they can't afford to finish them, hanging up on their quarterly investor's call, defaulting on loans), they might as well be an indie at this point.
posted by kmz at 12:31 PM on November 29, 2012 [4 favorites]


One of the recent bundles was Android-only. It didn't upset me. There are other bundles I'll buy, and it's all for good causes. What's the problem?
posted by pipeski at 12:33 PM on November 29, 2012 [1 favorite]


The first thing I noticed (other than the AAA games) was that none of them looked all that interesting. War game war game other war game, Saint's Row.

How many people purchased the ebook bundle sell, and how many does the usual indie bundle sell? It'd be interesting to see what the difference was.
posted by dinty_moore at 12:33 PM on November 29, 2012


I find it really fascinating that the average price is only $5.38. But then again, THQ isn't exactly the underdog that people will open their wallets for. And it's also only good for Windows (Linux users are pretty much always the highest donators).

Saints Row the Third is pretty awesome and if you don't own it yet, please consider picking it up. And if you hate THQ, just designate all the money for charity.
posted by specialagentwebb at 12:34 PM on November 29, 2012


The big deal seems to be the DRM rather than major-publisher involvement (although at this point THQ's status as a major anything is questionable). What's striking to me is that THQ needs somebody else's bully pulpit to give its games away.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 12:35 PM on November 29, 2012 [1 favorite]


Humble Bundle is diversifying, that's all. There are other Indie bundles out there but Humble has the reach and brand to work with big names and publishers and I think that's a good thing.
posted by BlackLeotardFront at 12:36 PM on November 29, 2012


And yes, Saint's Row the Third is not your typical GTA clone. Sharkgun, people.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 12:36 PM on November 29, 2012 [8 favorites]


raparadocs (manager of the GameDev Bundle) comments on the state of game bundles.
posted by Jpfed at 12:38 PM on November 29, 2012 [2 favorites]


dinty_moore: "How many people purchased the ebook bundle sell, and how many does the usual indie bundle sell? It'd be interesting to see what the difference was."

They've got final results for all their previous bundles here. From a total-payments perspective, it looks like humble ebooks outsold pretty much everything that wasn't a humble indie bundle, but had a relatively low number of actual purchasers. Which kind of makes sense because really it ended up being something like 13 ebooks, so a higher average payment could be expected.
posted by specialagentwebb at 12:39 PM on November 29, 2012


Metro 2033 is a pretty well respected game too, from what I understand, though I've never played it. I know that one of the interesting features is that the bullets you shoot are also the currency with which you buy stuff.
posted by kmz at 12:40 PM on November 29, 2012


Fantastic bundle. I'd be interested to see how much of the money is going to THQ.
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 12:40 PM on November 29, 2012


Last I heard, THQ is, financially, on the fucking ropes. Huge stock dip, a lot of debt, etc. I'm wondering if this is part of some last-ditch effort.
posted by griphus at 12:42 PM on November 29, 2012


By the way, the Company of Heroes games are superb, and well worth checking out even if you haven't enjoyed other RTS games
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 12:43 PM on November 29, 2012 [1 favorite]


I bought this because I've got a good friend at Volition (the studio that develops Saint's Row), and I don't want to see THQ go under.
posted by dortmunder at 12:44 PM on November 29, 2012 [2 favorites]


Yeah, they're barely even alive at this point. Support this bundle or don't, I fail to see how THQ is the big corporate greedy bad guy in this situation. The Humble Bundle reputation will survive just fine.
posted by naju at 12:44 PM on November 29, 2012


kmz, I wanted to like Metro 2033 a lot more than I did -- it had an excellent setting and some cool mechanics (the bullets that you can choose to shoot or sell for lower-quality bullets were great), but for some reason the gameplay felt lifeless and bland. On the whole, though, this is the cream of THQ's back catalog, and there are only so many times I can buy Machinarium and Braid in a Humble Bundle.
posted by Tubalcain at 12:46 PM on November 29, 2012 [4 favorites]


Jpfed: "raparadocs (manager of the GameDev Bundle) comments on the state of game bundles."

Hey, you're burying part of the story there.
posted by boo_radley at 12:48 PM on November 29, 2012


I can see how this is a slick move for THQ even if they make zero dollars and all the money goes to charity: these are still all THQ games and if they can say "look at how much money our games can make!" they might be able to get someone to buy them out/absorb them, which, IMO, is the only way they're going to stay alive.
posted by griphus at 12:49 PM on November 29, 2012 [1 favorite]


Whoa, Darksiders AND Saints row the third for $5.50? SCORE!

What a nonsense article. If one of these bundles presents products that I want at a price I am willing to pay, then I don't care who the publisher is and I don't care if they're "Indie" or not.

Moreover, who gets to judge what is "indie"? While it seems pretty obvious that THQ is not, what exactly is the criteria?

If the games don't present a winning price/value proposition, people won't buy them. what's the problem?
posted by DWRoelands at 12:51 PM on November 29, 2012


Honestly at this point I think it's only a matter of time before THQ splits up and their IPs (and hopefully their studios and their people) are absorbed by other companies.
posted by kmz at 12:52 PM on November 29, 2012


I really like having the HB games on Steam, honestly. I know that causes issues for some of the developers, but as a player it's really convenient. I've bought both the Android and novels packs too and they're rather less easy to manage.
posted by bonehead at 12:52 PM on November 29, 2012 [1 favorite]


They seem to have dropped the EFF from the list of charities for this bundle. Can't imagine why.
posted by sparkletone at 12:53 PM on November 29, 2012 [1 favorite]


...THQ splits up and their IPs (and hopefully their studios and their people) are absorbed by other companies

Yeah, that's basically inevitable, but I think the form that'll take (i.e. if those other companies will wait for the fire sale or not) is the important part.
posted by griphus at 12:54 PM on November 29, 2012


these are still all THQ games and if they can say "look at how much money our games can make!" they might be able to get someone to buy them out/absorb them, which, IMO, is the only way they're going to stay alive.

That makes a lot of sense, Griphus. If there is a possible financial backer out there considering the merits of THQ games, then the company is making a strong case that their games are still in demand. It's more plausible then the cynical "liquidate and give all the revenue to investors" theory in the post.
posted by naju at 12:55 PM on November 29, 2012


I just hope the Humble Bundle keeps selling Android and Linux games. It's my only hope of getting Sword & Sworcery on Linux at this point. (Yes, I missed it last time.) And one of my best hopes for decent games on either platform.
posted by jiawen at 12:55 PM on November 29, 2012


I'm not sure why a major publisher going 'pay what you like' could possibly be a bad thing. Granted, THQ has one foot in the grave, but isn't this how we want games to be sold? No more DRM, no more extortionate pricing, no more stupid piracy enforcement?
posted by empath at 12:56 PM on November 29, 2012


Wow, I've bought alot of the previous bundles. At least 4+. The games in this one don't interest me at all.
posted by RolandOfEld at 12:59 PM on November 29, 2012


The big philosophical issue people seem to have with this is that it does have DRM, as the games are only offered through Steam.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 12:59 PM on November 29, 2012 [2 favorites]


A question from a Steam noob: I currently do not have a PC gaming rig, but hope to have one in a year or two. Is it the case that I can buy this, go ahead and enter the codes into my Steam account (which currently I have installed on my Macbook), then a year or now when I buy a PC, the games will be there? Or would I have to save the codes and enter them on the PC Steam install? Or would that even work?
posted by jbickers at 1:01 PM on November 29, 2012


jbickers: you can buy 'em now, they'll be saved in your Steam account.
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 1:04 PM on November 29, 2012


I once took a year to enter a Steam code (off the New Vegas box) and it went through fine.
posted by griphus at 1:04 PM on November 29, 2012


Steam games follow your account, whatever computer you use. If I wanted to, I could install Steam on your computer, log in with my account, and download any of the (embarrassingly large amount of) games I've bought to your machine (although they'd only work as long as I stayed logged in).

So yes, purchase with confidence.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 1:04 PM on November 29, 2012


Brocktoon: "If Humble Bundle somehow decides to not release "indie" bundles anymore (and there is no indication of that), then someone else will."

This is part of the problem, I think. Over the last weekend, I got about a bojilliion HEY WE GOT A BUNNLE emails. Fur Bundle? Dragon Bundle? Indie Kickflip? Who are you people? The market seems close to saturation.
posted by boo_radley at 1:04 PM on November 29, 2012


For those of you who aren't gamers:

Company of Heroes is a WW2 RTS... it's vaguely Starcraft-ish, but comes from the Dawn of War RTS engine and thinking. (unlimited but decaying resources, unless you rebuild resource structures, which rarely happens in real games.) Trying to make the game plus its two expansions count as 'three games' is kind of deceptive; none of the single player campaigns are all that long, though in aggregate, that's some good solid gaming time. You'd never play multiplayer anymore without all three. A very solid, decent game, quite popular when it came out.

Red Faction: Armageddon is a third-person shooter set on Mars. I played the prequel, and didn't get that hooked by it. It was just kind of boring, so I never bought this one, and can't talk very intelligently about it, other than it focuses very heavily on destroying manmade structures. (per Wikipedia, in the sequel, you can rebuild them too.) I don't know if this game is good or not.

Metro 2033 is the standout for me, though I haven't played everything on offer. It's a first-person shooter set in the subway tunnels under Moscow after Armageddon. It's slow, and contemplative, and feels very, very Russian, though whether it actually is or not, I don't know. The air above ground is poisonous; air below ground is safe, though it's never explained why this should be true. So you have to wear masks, which only last a few minutes each.... aboveground sequences are thus under severe time pressure (move fast, or you will die), where underground sequences are typically as slow or fast as you want them to be. Super atmospheric, tons of stuff to see, a world that feels remarkably real. It is a real resource pig, however; if you don't have a very fast computer, you will need to dial the graphic settings way back. DX10 mode is especially slow; staying with DX9 won't change the graphics much, and will just about double framerate. This game makes even the biggest, most powerful PCs cry at high resolutions and high settings, so don't be afraid to back off quite a way. It still looks very good.

Darksiders is the source of much controversy on my main gaming-info site, Gamers With Jobs. People who love the game think it's the best thing since the NES; people who hate it seem to hate it with visceral passion. The arguments have been so extreme that most people just joke about and avoid the subject now. So, I don't actually know much about the game at all, except that it's extremely polarizing, and that, to all appearances, you'll either think it was the best game in the bundle, or that the developers should die in a fire, apparently with no middle ground.

Saint's Row is a game I feel I should like, but for whatever reason, it's never really grabbed me. It's vaguely GTA-ish, but tries to dial everything to 11. I personally found it quite difficult, and not especially rewarding, but there are a lot of people who deeply love the series, and this entry in particular.

Be aware that there is a TON of DLC for this game, and I don't think you're getting any of it, so you could easily think of its inclusion in the bundle as a crass, exploitative move to get you to buy more stuff. Pay more money to get the game to begin with, only to be given a whole bunch of wonderful upsell opportunities. Seriously, there's like 20 pieces of DLC or something, it's pretty insane. Reminds me of Train Simulator.

I personally think Metro 2033 is probably worth $10 all by itself, and the CoH trilogy is probably still worth another $5 or $7.50. I probably won't be buying the bundle myself, because I own most of them already, and the ones I don't have aren't especially interesting. (Darksiders and Red Faction.)
posted by Malor at 1:09 PM on November 29, 2012 [10 favorites]


I'd been interested in Saints Row for a while, so paying $5.46 to get it and a slew of other games was a nobrainer, even if I understand the worries about them not actually being indy or DRM free.
posted by MartinWisse at 1:13 PM on November 29, 2012


Counter point, Metro 2033 has a literal on-rails shooting part at the start of the game, and doesn't get any better from there. You sit through 45 minutes of cutscene before you ever shoot anything. It's Call of Duty with a pretty package.
posted by codacorolla at 1:14 PM on November 29, 2012


Hey, you're burying part of the story there.

Yes, but that was a massive can of worms that I thought was not quite as related to the FPP as the more general commentary offered.
posted by Jpfed at 1:18 PM on November 29, 2012


It's Call of Duty with a pretty package.

It seems to me that complaining that it's Call of Duty, and then at the same time dismissing the 45 minutes of scene setting and world building at the beginning as being a distraction, means that all you wanted was Call of Duty. If you insist on ignoring the stuff that makes it different, then of course it's not different. It's still a shooter.

I'm not aware of stealth being an option in CoD, and you can be somewhat stealthy in Metro. There are numerous places where sneaking and killing with silent weapons will make the game much, much easier.

I really enjoyed this game. I like the setting, the atmosphere, and the weapons. It doesn't reach the crisp brilliance of, say, Dishonored, but I had a great time with it. Have played it through twice, and enjoyed the hell out of it both times.
posted by Malor at 1:23 PM on November 29, 2012


What blogs do y'all keep up with for business news?
posted by griphus at 1:23 PM on November 29, 2012


The polarizing thing about Darksiders, if I may try (and probably fail) to describe it objectively, is that the story and aesthetic are ripped straight from the most terrible, blood-plate-armor-and-broadsword laden comic book covers and heavy-metal albums of 1993. Your hero is an enormously musclebound horseman of the apocalypse who at one point puts an enormous metal gauntlet on over an existing, slightly less enormous metal gauntlet and punches laser-wielding angels with it. This is presented totally in earnest, as if it were the most bitchin' thing you've ever seen.

If that sounds like the kind of thing you can laugh with, you'll probably enjoy Darksiders. If it sounds cringingly horrible, you won't.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 1:25 PM on November 29, 2012 [4 favorites]


WE MUST HAVE PURITY IN ALL THINGS OR WE WILL PERISH
posted by Doleful Creature at 1:27 PM on November 29, 2012


It's like an appetizer of gauntlets. An amuse-bouche of gloves.
posted by boo_radley at 1:28 PM on November 29, 2012 [1 favorite]


I should add that the thing that is not at all polarizing about Darksiders, and is in fact a work of pure genius, is that the game has a sprite that follows you around giving you "helpful information" about puzzles and dungeons and whatnot, like Navi in Zelda 64, except instead of a high-pitched "Hey! Listen!" yell drilling into your skull, it's Mark Hamill doing his Joker voice.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 1:34 PM on November 29, 2012 [2 favorites]


Here is the fun piece of promotional merch sent to journalists for the then-upcoming release of Darksiders II.
posted by griphus at 1:36 PM on November 29, 2012 [1 favorite]


THQ are going under? But who will make my WH40k games?
posted by Artw at 1:36 PM on November 29, 2012 [2 favorites]


Saints Row is for people who thought GTA took a turn for the worse when it became more gritty and dramatic and brown. If your favorite GTA was San Andreas because you had a jetpack and could beat people to death with a giant purple dildo, Saints Row is for you.

What was also interesting is that it lacked the new player nerfing; GTA always felt like it was very consciously saving the best parts for later, so I would have some feeling of progression. I'm not sure exactly how Saints Row did it without doing it, because you definitely didn't get any of the overpowered stuff (hoverbikes and airstrikes) until the late game.

I had a good time with it, and never felt like I needed to buy any DLC.
posted by danny the boy at 1:37 PM on November 29, 2012 [1 favorite]


Yeah, the SR3 add-ons are really unnecessary. The game is packed full of content.

It is basically the cyberpunk GTA I'd always wanted.
posted by xiw at 1:51 PM on November 29, 2012


One of the recent bundles was Android-only.

Most of the games in the Android bundles come as Windows/Mac/Linux versions as well, with maybe a couple of exceptions.
posted by reprise the theme song and roll the credits at 1:53 PM on November 29, 2012 [1 favorite]


xiw: "Yeah, the SR3 add-ons are really unnecessary. The game is packed full of content.

It is basically the cyberpunk GTA I'd always wanted.
"

If you've ever yearned for a realistic tactical stealth toilet simulator, RUN, don't walk, to Saint's Row 3.
posted by boo_radley at 1:59 PM on November 29, 2012 [1 favorite]


Indeed. I think the funniest part of Saints 3 for me was the mission where you went into "cyberspace".
posted by danny the boy at 2:04 PM on November 29, 2012 [2 favorites]


The HumbleBronyBundle seems to be ignoring this one. Anyone heard from Notch?
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 2:06 PM on November 29, 2012


I'm glad this post got made, because they didn't send me an email about this bundle and I am so in.
posted by adamdschneider at 2:12 PM on November 29, 2012


This is a really bad idea.

The whole point of the humble bundle IS NOT to get games. Seriously, it isn't. It's closer to a form of charity: I accept to donate this much to this round of fundraising which will help support these struggling indie developers and these charities and in return, as a bonus, I receive these games. It tackles in its own way the problem of how, as an indie developer who essentially never gets to make any profit from its labours of love, the internet can still let you eat.

I know that in practice, this isn't how things pan out with people buying the bundles that have the games they want, but the idea is that you can use this as your opportunity to say thank you to all those struggling developers out there, whose games you've played but you've never paid for.

By letting a profit-making company use its name. this could turn the humble bundle into another distribution platform, a sporadic Steam. And that means it loses its key purpose. And I lose a chance to say thank you to, to support those wonderful people out there who create amazing games for very little.
posted by litleozy at 2:24 PM on November 29, 2012 [4 favorites]


Oh, man. I really thought I clicked on every link to make sure I wasn't about to do that. I lose at metafilter today.
posted by chazlarson at 2:24 PM on November 29, 2012


My main disappointment is that this bundle is Windows-only.

One of the recent bundles was Android-only.

Most of the games in the Android bundles come as Windows/Mac/Linux versions as well, with maybe a couple of exceptions.


Android Bundles 3 and 4 were entirely available on Mac as well as Android. Can't speak to Win/Linux.
posted by owtytrof at 2:25 PM on November 29, 2012


I forgot to expand on the Windows-only thing. Humble Bundles are the only ones I'm aware of that pretty consistently have EVERY game available on Mac. I'm in a Mac-only household, so this is kind of a big deal to me. I'm not willing to have a Win install on my machine simply to play some indie games.
posted by owtytrof at 2:28 PM on November 29, 2012


Man, I've been playing COH since the first one with the same group of guys, we started playing late at night in hotel rooms while we were away from home for weeks on end building sites for customers.

Some of my absolute best gaming experience has been with COH franchise.
posted by iamabot at 2:32 PM on November 29, 2012 [1 favorite]


Android Bundles 3 and 4 were entirely available on Mac as well as Android. Can't speak to Win/Linux.

Alright, I just took a look through the Android bundles, and I don't see any Android-only games after all. There seem to be some Android-only variants, tho: posted by reprise the theme song and roll the credits at 2:41 PM on November 29, 2012


Yeah, Company of Heroes is basically the best RTS of the last decade. I figure it was worth it just to show support that might keep the sequel alive long enough to be released. Plus I get to try Darksiders and Saints Row. Sadly though, I already have everything but those two, and I can't gift the duplicates.
posted by CrystalDave at 2:42 PM on November 29, 2012 [1 favorite]


The whole point of the humble bundle IS NOT to get games.

The hell?

but the idea is that you can use this as your opportunity to say thank you to all those struggling developers out there, whose games you've played but you've never paid for.

Look, just because you're pirating code, doesn't mean everyone is.

Whatever your reason may be for using Humble Bundle, that doesn't mean it applies to everyone else. I've bought a number of the bundles, and I didn't do it out of charity, I did it because I was interested in DRM-free games for a reasonable price. The price was, by definition, reasonable, since I was the one doing the defining.

That's how I like to be treated, so 'reasonable' was higher than it would otherwise be. I'm pretty enthusiastic about this method of software purchase.

If you don't like this bundle, don't buy it! It's not like they can't run more than one at the same time. They just did, in fact... during the recent Humble Android Bundle, they did a separate Double Fine promotion simultaneously.

A single website can support more than one URL at a time -- advanced technology, sure, but we can typically cope successfully.
posted by Malor at 2:45 PM on November 29, 2012


I'm not talking just about pirating, I'm talking about the whole mash of indie-ish games out there that make up the pages of jayisgames, newgrounds or kongregate. There are so many games I've played and really enjoyed that I haven't pirated, but that I haven't paid a penny for. As far as I can tell, the whole point of the humble bundle is, in its own way, a way to promote and support indie developers by creating a critical mass of good games.

So while I'm totally agreed that part of the appeal is that the customer gets to choose, and that part of that critical mass is that it's just a damn good deal, but we all know that we aren't paying enough when we pay £15 for 6 games (average for most deals is at around $10 btw). There's something else going on. For my money, it's giving back to the indie gaming community.

I stand by my statement that this is the wrong direction to take.
posted by litleozy at 2:55 PM on November 29, 2012 [1 favorite]


Just came here to say that I dunno about Darksiders, but Darksiders 2 is rad as fuck.
posted by lazaruslong at 3:10 PM on November 29, 2012 [1 favorite]


but the idea is that you can use this as your opportunity to say thank you to all those struggling developers out there

If it's any consolation, you can still send your payment to charity... and THQ pretty much qualifies as a struggling developer at this point.
posted by Jpfed at 3:15 PM on November 29, 2012


but we all know that we aren't paying enough when we pay £15 for 6 games (average for most deals is at around $10 btw).

Once the game is written, copies are free to make. Well, not quite free, but so close that they might as well be. There's transaction fees for payment, but in the overall scheme of things, a developer can be incredibly profitable with $1 games, if he or she can move enough volume. 15 pounds, $30, is quite fair for 6 games from tiny developers. They don't need, usually, millions of dollars in revenue to stay nicely in the black... when it's just a couple of people, a couple hundred thousand a year is adequate, and that's like 65,000 copies at $3 profit/copy. And if they have a breakout hit, well, they can do extremely well for themselves. Humble Bundles tend to move several hundred thousand copies, so even at $10 average total selling price, I suspect most indies that get involved are going to see checks for like $250K.

It is much less important how much you pay for these games than it is that you pay at all. Even if it's a small amount, once the game is written, it's almost pure profit, because the marginal cost of making additional copies is miniscule.

And, again, the existence of the THQ bundle doesn't make the old style of bundle difficult or impossible. They can keep doing exactly what they have been doing, exactly the same way, and you can keep buying for the same amounts you have been. Even if every commercial dev in the world starts doing Humble Bundles of every game ever written, that doesn't stop new Indie bundies from coming to pass.

Would the extra competition hurt them? I don't know. I tend to think not, because indie games are usually experimental and different from stuff you can buy from big outfits. Maybe you'd lose some emotional sense of sanctity if that happened, but the actual ability to support the developers you want to support wouldn't be impaired.

Perhaps the mindspace could get too crowded, and the indie guys could get starved of revenue, but I don't see any particular risk of that happening, unless the big-dev bundles become much more prevalent.
posted by Malor at 3:21 PM on November 29, 2012


It's interesting that there wasn't, AFAIK, any blowback when they did the ebook bundle. That wasn't even about games, although it was DRM-free.
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 4:34 PM on November 29, 2012


Darksiders 1 is essentially the love child of Gears of War and Ocarina of Time.
posted by Elementary Penguin at 4:38 PM on November 29, 2012


From Darksider's Wikipedia page:
The game takes its inspiration from the apocalypse, with the player taking the role of War, one of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse.

Nethack did it first.
posted by JHarris at 4:40 PM on November 29, 2012


If I buy the bundles it is usually for less than the average, but I rarely, if ever play them.
If there wasn't a bundle, these guys would see $0 from me, instead of $30 or so a year in bundle fees.
I suppose there are some people who would have paid $30 per game who now get it cheap, but I suspect there are many, many more people like me who would have previously contributed nothing to game devs, getting my once in a while fix of games from some free flash game, who now get some money.
posted by bystander at 5:15 PM on November 29, 2012


I bought the first Humble Bundle. I then got Steam. Then Steam wanted me to sign-away my protections from Steam under the guise of Binding Arbitration because they said, "It will be good for you as the customer."

I didn't want to sign away my protections, so I did not agree to Binding Arbitration because class actions lawsuits are the only real protection consumers have in the US. What happened since I did not agree to the Binding Arbitration? Steam doesn't work anymore. My library of games is no longer accessible to me. When I contact Steam's customer service, they loop me back with links to the TOS that includes Binding Arbitration, which is not the TOS I agreed to. So no refund, even though Steam blocks me from using my games.

When I contact Gabe Newell with his super special all access email, I get no response.

In total, Steam screwed me, and scammed me out about $150, and I won't be using distribution networks like Steam in the future because as far as I can tell, what Steam did is called extortion.
posted by 517 at 7:00 PM on November 29, 2012 [7 favorites]


So instead of agreeing to arbitration in the event that Steam does something to screw you out of some money (which, I agree, is bullshit), you refuse to sign the new TOS and thereby guarantee that you lose all the money you put into your games. Congratulations?
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 7:13 PM on November 29, 2012


...which is not the TOS I agreed to.

I believe, but I could be wrong, that the TOS you agreed to has allowance for changes to the TOS.
posted by griphus at 7:18 PM on November 29, 2012


Humble has built itself into a brand, and part of its success is based on its DRM-free and cross-platform credos. This THQ bundle was a missed opportunity for Humble to exert its influence on a struggling publisher in the service of at least one of those credos. Humble could have said to THQ, "Okay, we understand that Mac and Linux ports are not feasible, but you can at least give us DRM-free builds. We know that you publishers love your DRM, but if now is not the time for a bold change, when is?"

This Steam-only bundle isn't an outrage. It's just disappointing.
posted by ionnin at 7:20 PM on November 29, 2012 [6 favorites]


Also, I don't really have the time for it, but Valve has been up to a lot of shady stuff w/r/t Steam, Greenlight and so on, and an FPP is not unwarranted.
posted by griphus at 7:23 PM on November 29, 2012 [1 favorite]


While I completely agree that that would be great, If I were John L. THQ, looking at this as a way to get myself in a better position for the inevitable Chapter 11, I would worry about publishers who might want to buy my back catalog getting scared off by the fact that I gave away freely replicated copies of the games that they would be trying to sell for money.

Disappointing, but not surprising, IMO.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 7:25 PM on November 29, 2012


Yes, it did griphus, but that doesn't mean what they did wasn't extortion. Steam's basic message was, "Agree to Binding Arbitration, or we take away what you paid for. There are no other options."
posted by 517 at 7:43 PM on November 29, 2012


What's going to happen when Steams says, "It's now going to cost you $1 a month to maintain your library. We are doing this to provide excellent customer service. If you don't pay us the small fee of $1 a month, you will lose access to you $500 library of games."

What they don't mention is that because you agreed to the Binding Arbitration, there's no reason for them to not do that because they can't be sued for extorting you.
posted by 517 at 7:52 PM on November 29, 2012 [2 favorites]


I'm a little fuzzy on American law, but isn't extortion illegal whether or not you've signed some sort of agreement?

HZSF: Isn't one of the notable differences about this bundle that the games aren't DRM free?
posted by ODiV at 8:58 PM on November 29, 2012


517, the majority of Steam games can be played without using Steam using the same sort of crack one used to download back when one bought games on disk and didn't want to put the disk in every time to play them. Some will launch straight from the executable in the game's directory in your Steam folder even without a crack.

Of course this only works for games that you've already got installed. If you're locked out of a bunch of games that aren't installed, you could maybe agree to the TOS, download them, then cancel your Steam account once you got them working without Steam.

I agree that getting games on Steam is not the same as buying them, and that this situation sucks. But their sale prices are so ridiculously low, I think it cancels out. Basically I only ever buy a game on Steam at a price I'd be comfortable considering it a long-term rental (usually $5 or less).
posted by straight at 9:13 PM on November 29, 2012


This Steam-only bundle isn't an outrage. It's just disappointing.

Well, keep in mind that even if they'd removed the Steam DRM, the multiplayer games still require online accounts with unique, registered CD keys, so if you want to play against Internet people, there's another DRM type imposed. Modifying and testing all that code, plus changing over the entire existing installed base, would have been very expensive, and probably not worth it to THQ.

I can actually get behind the argument that the Humble name should mean 'no DRM'. Steam is DRM; it's an easy crack, but it is DRM, and it means Valve can unilaterally change the terms of the deal anytime they like, and your sole remedy is praying they don't alter the deal further.

I think the argument that 'Humble should only be indies' is a poor one, as I've talked about upthread. But saying that Humble should always be DRM-free does strike a real chord.
posted by Malor at 11:52 PM on November 29, 2012 [2 favorites]


I accept to donate this much to this round of fundraising which will help support these struggling indie developers and these charities and in return, as a bonus, I receive these games. It tackles in its own way the problem of how, as an indie developer who essentially never gets to make any profit from its labours of love, the internet can still let you eat.

This would make sense if the indie games featured were actually made by struggling developers. In most cases, they are not; they are good indie games that are already quite popular and successful. I'm sure the devs aren't rich, but there are many, many less well-off indie devs out there who aren't included in Humble Bundles.

I don't see this as a problem myself - Indie Royale and others are good for featuring the other games - but it is frankly nonsense to suggest that Humble Bundle is for struggling devs who can't eat and never make any profit.
posted by adrianhon at 1:19 AM on November 30, 2012 [1 favorite]


I think I will pass on this one. I COULD come up with the money, but I am recently unemployed and I really can't spare it. I got into the whole Humble Bundle thing a while back when a fellow kind MeFi gifted me one and have been buying them with better than average donations every time. The only issue I have is - I own all of these, except Metro 2033, Darksiders, and the other Company of Heroes thingie (I own the first two listed) and pretty much paid full price for all of them.

So, when did the THQ bad news start appearing? That was news to me. Wonder why GW tossed them the 40K license then. No due diligence?

Oh, and Steam had better not try any extortion with me. I have WAY too much money tied up with them.
posted by Samizdata at 4:10 AM on November 30, 2012


Samizdata: THQ had a modest hit on the Wii that required some special peripheral, and they thought it would be big on the other consoles. They sunk a truly insane amount of money into building the special controller, and then the game absolutely flopped. They lost something like $100 million on controllers they ended up just scrapping. It's quite likely that this mishap was a deathblow to the company; they've been just barely making it ever since, despite making some of the best games going.

AFAIK, they would be pretty healthy otherwise, a solid small publisher with a stable of very high quality games. Most of the stuff they ship is quite profitable, but if you light a hundred million dollar bills on fire, well, that takes a hell of a lot of game sales to recover from that. As big a hit as Saint's Row 3 was, they're dug in so deep that they may never see daylight again.

They do Warhammer better than freaking anyone, although I haven't liked the direction they went with the RTS; it's gotten much too twitchy for me. I liked the deliberation of Dawn of War 1, which I still play in skirmish mode on a regular basis. And the recent FPS in the Warhammer world was superbly atmospheric, but it was so difficult that I didn't get very far with it.
posted by Malor at 5:17 AM on November 30, 2012


I've been playing SR3 all morning and daaaamn that game is fun.

Also, at roughly 24 hours into the promotion, they're at $2.4 million right now with a average price a little over five bucks and no particularly large single donations. Regardless of how that is split, I'm really not seeing any losers in this situation.
posted by griphus at 10:55 AM on November 30, 2012


Just for comparison, the most succesful bundle was V, which got $5.1 after a week.
posted by griphus at 10:57 AM on November 30, 2012


I reinstalled SR3, and I've been having a lot of fun with it too. I'm not sure why it didn't grab me before, but this is a very good, albeit completely ridiculous, game. There is, indeed, a great deal of content, sans DLC.
posted by Malor at 1:53 PM on December 1, 2012


What's going to happen when Steams says, "It's now going to cost you $1 a month to maintain your library. We are doing this to provide excellent customer service. If you don't pay us the small fee of $1 a month, you will lose access to you $500 library of games."

I'll pay it, and gladly.

Why? Because Steam provides a service that has value to me. Update? They handle it. Patches? They handle it. Making sure that the correct version of DirectX is installed with every game I download? They handle it.

With Steam, I get access to a fantastic online store of video games. I get access to cool community features. I get access to an AMAZING library of older games at ridiculous prices. I get cool customer service people who have been friendly and helpful whenever I have had to deal with them.

Steam lets me have access to games that I otherwise would not have known about or been able to play because they are no longer actively marketed by the original publishers.

All of these things have value to me, and I'd gladly pay a couple of bucks a month so long as they keep providing the same level of service and quality products.

I'm fine with it.
posted by DWRoelands at 9:52 AM on December 3, 2012


Well, don't tell them that, you big dummy.
posted by Malor at 8:55 PM on December 3, 2012 [2 favorites]


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