Bundles and game discounters
September 22, 2015 12:50 PM   Subscribe

It started with the Humble Indie Bundle. (Previously, and multiple times.) But there's now plenty of other places to get indie games bundled cheaply: IndieGala, Bundle Stars, Groupees, and, because you can't get cheaper than free, Freebie Bundle and Free Bundle. There's also Indie Game Stand, Buy-Some-Indie-Games, Fire Flower Games, Shiny Loot and GreenManGaming's Indie section.
posted by JHarris (30 comments total) 29 users marked this as a favorite
I had to exclude itch.io, because I myself have something for sale up there, but they're pretty great.
posted by JHarris at 12:51 PM on September 22, 2015

Groupees also does a good bit of music with their games. Less than a day left to get 12 synthwave/outrun albums and eps for $3, for example.
posted by Pope Guilty at 12:53 PM on September 22, 2015 [4 favorites]

I've had to stop looking at game bundles because I now seem to have more games in my Steam library and elsewhere than I can ever hope to play. Which is a shame, because I bought all those farming simulators with the best of intentions...
posted by pipeski at 12:57 PM on September 22, 2015 [3 favorites]

I was a huge fan of the Humble Bundle early on and I think I've bought six or seven of the first 8 Humble Bundles there were. Because there was always one game or the other, that I wanted to play and this way I got it cheap. I always paid more than the average, but I figured, I was paying 10 bucks for 8 games I'm CERTAINLY gonna play SOMEWHEN down the road.

But I rarely ever did. I played the one or two games I wanted, with seven games falling by the wayside every time. My collection got bigger and so did the amount of games I never even touched. I've also dipped a toe into other bundles (e.g. Indie Royale) but after a while there was just too much going on basically all the time. So I stopped checking them out completely.

A shame, really, but maybe I wasn't cut out to be a dedicated gamer.
posted by bigendian at 1:02 PM on September 22, 2015 [2 favorites]

I am much more likely to read a digital comic or ebook than I am to play a game, so my jams have always been Humble Indie Bundle's Book Bundles, and StoryBundle. I've spent money at both places and have no regrets.
posted by sleeping bear at 1:10 PM on September 22, 2015 [4 favorites]

I know, right? I have like 200 games in my Steam library by now, but then I finally get around to something like Skyrim and just want to exhaust it. And there are so many games I actively want to play already but don't have time for -- Terraria, Starbound, the entire Warhammer 40K RTS series, The Long Dark is _amazing_, I have a huge and massive nostalgic love for Blood Bowl (and the second one comes out this week)...

...and then there's new games! This War of Mine, Blood Bowl 2 (see above), Fallout 4, the dozens of great indie games that seem to pop up every week...

I have a job, and a terrific spouse, and community commitments, and renovations to do around the house, and amazing televisual programmes that I haven't seen, and real-life board games to play with flesh-friends. Bundles are starting to now feel like opportunities lost rather than bargoons, as they sharply draw my attention to all the amazing experiences I'm not having.
posted by Shepherd at 1:10 PM on September 22, 2015 [1 favorite]

I bought all those farming simulators with the best of intentions...

What we need is a simulator game that simulates you playing all those simulator games...
posted by nubs at 1:12 PM on September 22, 2015 [5 favorites]

A shame, really, but maybe I wasn't cut out to be a dedicated gamer.

No no no. What you need to do to be a dedicated gamer is to play one game for thousands and thousands of hours, all while seething with hatred towards your fellow players, the game, the developers, and every plant and animal on earth. You can take your pick of which game, but let's be honest; it's going to be DOTA.

Alternatively, if you'd like a shortcut to success, I recommend going on NeoGAF and explaining why every game that reviewers like is garbage and how the world would be a better place if they'd only play Nier.
posted by selfnoise at 1:13 PM on September 22, 2015 [8 favorites]

Bundle of Holding is a tabletop RPG PDF bundle that has definitely taught me that I buy more RPG PDFs than I actually read. Though the one with classic Traveller was pretty awesome.
posted by graymouser at 1:14 PM on September 22, 2015 [8 favorites]

I own <20 steam games. I hardly buy bundles or from Steam sales. And yet the new games tend to sit idle while another hundred hours mysteriously appears on the total time played for Civ 5. (Luckily, Beyond Earth doesn't work on my computer.)

So it doesn't matter how many of these you buy. If you buy more than three or so, there will be unplayed games. (Hell, there are cartridges for my Sega Genesis that I'm sure were only put in one or two times.)
posted by Hactar at 1:15 PM on September 22, 2015 [1 favorite]

BTW: I have a gaming budget of $20 per month, because I have two children in preschool and why God.

Initially bundles seemed like a good idea to stretch things, but after perusing Steamspy and seeing the staggeringly low sales numbers on most games (and looking at my ludicrous list of unplayed games) I decided to just give one developer a full-priced buy per month. It's not like I'm going to play anything but Rocket League anyway.
posted by selfnoise at 1:28 PM on September 22, 2015

I think it's better to have games you'll never play than to want to play games you'll never have, so I love bundles. I tend not to get one unless there's at least one thing in them I can't live without though. Humble Bundle, right now, has Game Maker Studio Pro if you pay at least $6, and Android export if you pay another $6, which is a gigantic discount, these things together would normally be at least $200. (And maybe more; someone on Twitter said what you'd actually pay is more like $450.)
posted by JHarris at 1:30 PM on September 22, 2015 [3 favorites]

I bought two or three humble bundles, often because I had interest in one of the titles. All others were forgotten.

I've checked my account, and I recall playing two of them. I also have Brutal Legend (which I really don't remember getting, although I did bought it for the 360) and Fez. No idea I had either.
That's a good reason why I stopped buying them. I've bought The Last Express three years ago because it was a game I really been wanting to play for years, and didn't even bother to download it. Why should I spend more money on crap that I won't be playing ?
posted by lmfsilva at 1:37 PM on September 22, 2015

On the other hand, being a student with all these bundles would be amazing - it's the lack of time mostly. I think the quality of bundles has suffered since they became a thing, with so so games wasting space or thinly veiled marketing dictating prices... that said, I rebought all heroes of might & magic games (though I had homm2 for the amazing soundtrack).

What I'm saying is that I'm waiting for axiom verge to find its way to a bundle while I play Mario Maker.
posted by ersatz at 2:55 PM on September 22, 2015 [2 favorites]

I find myself looking at the store sales sections of these sites more than I look at the bundles these days. Humble just had two weeks of fantastic discounts, and the other sites are pretty good too. As for the bundles, let's just say that I've learned the lesson that I'll never play that janky platformer where you play a tomato the hard way.

Groupees music can also be great (my god, that synthwave bundle), but their games are largely forgettable.
posted by hiteleven at 3:05 PM on September 22, 2015

Out of the 5 or 6 Humble Bundles I've purchased, having FTL makes all of it worthwhile even if I never touch another one.
posted by ericales at 4:57 PM on September 22, 2015 [4 favorites]

Have purchased some Game Bundles.

Currently trying to purchase some matching Free-Time Bundles in which to play the bundles of games.

No-one is selling :(
posted by anonymisc at 5:57 PM on September 22, 2015 [5 favorites]

I'm not actually sure about any of the others -- I don't think they do it -- but I have an abiding love and respect for Humble Bundle (and it was one of the inspirations for my latest project) because they kick in to charity with every purchase made, and that amounts at this point to more than fifty million dollars! That's pretty great.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 6:14 PM on September 22, 2015 [3 favorites]

When Pico-8 came up in a recent discussion I checked my past purchases and found out I'd bought the humble voxatron bundle two years earlier, which included voxatron dev stuff, which now includes Pico-8. I'd bought two development programs by accident.

I'm still what we will summarize as too dumb to understand Pico-8, but buying a bundle for one game I really want and then years later finding out it contained three games I really wanted feels great. Plus the EFF or whoever gets a dollar. I'm sold.
posted by sandswipe at 7:52 PM on September 22, 2015 [2 favorites]

I've had a PlayStation Plus account for a couplefew years now, and the bundle backlog glut's also a factor with that. It's compounded by the completely terrible PlayStation Store interface, where you can't sort what you've purchased by obscure criteria like what system it will play on or, y'know, the alphabet. Lots of neat indie games to play on the Vita, though, if you can find them among everything else you've downloaded from Sony in your entire life.
posted by asperity at 9:21 PM on September 22, 2015

Humble bundles are great! As are steam bundles, etc. They are in large part responsible for my steam library now containing 390(!) Mac games. Plus a bunch of windows-only games I can't play, but got as part of the bundle. I've been inadvertently introduced to a lot of great games that wrapped themselves around my brainstem because they came in a bundle with another game I bought it for, such as Massive Chalice recently.

Similarly, I have a crapload of various playstation games from PS+. It introduced me to a lot of games like Rock of Ages that were great that I otherwise probably wouldn't have tried, because, holy crap, I already had a huge backlog problem.

However, I now feel really bad for Indie developers. Competing with my backlog is now hard, because it's full of great games. I've also been essentially trained to wait until something hits an arbitrary low-enough price or turns up in a humble bundle or summer sale, or humble store sale, just because I like to maximize what I get for cash. I know, I know, I should vote with my dollars and support something early - and I have, I crowdfunded a few things (including Gods Will Be Watching), but it's hard to resist the urge to save.

In short, it's never been better for consumers; we're now entering a golden age of video gaming to go with our golden age of television - assuming you're looking beyond the narrow pop culture channel of $60 triple-A high budget games.

But for developers, the competitive pressure is enormous. It's just not enough to make a good game any more. Much has been written about how difficult it is to make profit on iOS and Android; it's easier on the consoles and computer markets, but it's progressively getting tougher. I feel for the small shops and one-person studios trying to make their way. Not so sympathetic for the multi-million dollar budget games, though. If indie developers can make a great game on a shoestring budget that really resonates with people, I'm not going to feel compelled to spend more on behalf of the barely-differentiated sequels and retreads.
posted by Strudel at 9:39 PM on September 22, 2015 [2 favorites]

Thanks for posting this.

I know this is silly but the name Humble Bundle grates on me. Yes, they were "humble" when they started out, to the extent that it is possible to label oneself that. But recently they've had a bunch of AAA games and I'm not sure in what sense they could be labeled "humble" now.
posted by a snickering nuthatch at 10:09 PM on September 22, 2015

For anyone using Windows with any interest in game development, this week's Humble weekly bundle is worth your attention. For $6 or more you get a license for GameMaker which usually costs over $100 (depending on what you pay you also get the source code to various games made using the tool).
posted by sparkletone at 10:21 PM on September 22, 2015 [1 favorite]

I have every Humble Bundle and I've maybe played four games? The good thing is that almost all of the money goes to very worthwhile charities. Maybe someday I'll play some of these games and I'll definitely never play all of them (or listen to, read, watch all of the other media) but the occasional $9 has gone to help someone.
posted by koavf at 10:44 PM on September 22, 2015

*eyes her Steam library full of things that came in a Humble Bundle along with the one game she wanted to actually play*
*ponders the mostly low play time counts on the ones she actually "wanted"*
*ponders the slowly increasing number of trophies she has on Bloodborne*

Yeah I think I'm done with the bundle thing.

Honestly it doesn't help that my Mac Air is not very good for most modern games. The fact that getting a game on it to work with a controller is always a crapshoot never helps, either. I mean hell I haven't even bothered finishing some of the stuff I've backed on Kickstarter like Broken Age or Sunless Sea. I might end up playing a significant amount of a couple of Kickstarted games that will be delivering PS4 download codes. Or maybe I'll just put another few hundred hours into Bloodborne.

I think I unsubscribed from Humble's emails around the second time they offered a bundle of old EA games that only ran on Windows.
posted by egypturnash at 12:33 AM on September 23, 2015

Like everyone else here, I have a Steam backlog as long as my arm. Half the problem is that parenthood and life take up actual time & the other half is that with the time I do get to kick back and relax, the inevitable temptation to pick up something I already know is huge.

Then I do something silly like start Ep 1 of Life Is Strange at 9pm & next thing I know it’s 3am and Oh God, what just happened?
posted by pharm at 1:19 AM on September 23, 2015

I have the same Steam backlog and huge was-on-sale GOG library [1] and I don't know how many games that have not even been downloaded from Humble Bundle, but I'll still check out bundles and from time to time, buy.


Soundtracks, my friends. Soundtracks. Humble Bundle used to include them more often, and it honestly miffs me that they don't have them every time anymore, but in the meantime, I pay $5, $whatever of it going to charity, for minimum two hours of music, some of which would have remained undiscovered gems forever because I'm not ever going to play Company of Heroes in the history of ever. But it's got music by Inon “Dragon Age: Origins" Zur and Jeremy “Elder Scrolls" Soule. And hey, I may get to Psychonauts one day, but I am sure glad I didn't have to wait to get to that point in my arm-long to-play list to discover its dark and fantastic music.

So JHarris, thanks so much for the links to all those bundlers I didn't know about. Maybe some of them also have soundtracks?

[1] Before they decided to give a platform to a known GooberGutter. I can't find anything about whether that relationship has been severed or not, so my library there hasn't had anything new added since last fall.
posted by seyirci at 12:24 AM on September 24, 2015

I bought a Front Line Assembly album (the soundtrack to Airmech) on Steam because damned if buying an album on Steam wasn't novel.
posted by Pope Guilty at 2:05 AM on September 24, 2015

Steam is now selling video as well PG: I noticed that you can watch the new Mad Max movie (to go alongside the game presumably) on Steam yesterday.
posted by pharm at 2:36 AM on September 24, 2015

That's a hot idea, but $20 for a stream? Noooooo thank you.
posted by Pope Guilty at 5:27 AM on September 24, 2015

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