Since the beginning of last year, every six months or so the fine folks at Wolfire Games have gathered indie developers together to release a combo gaming pack called Humble Indie Bundle. Not only are the included games good, but the way one buys them is what makes Humble Indie Bundle one of the coolest products in games. Even better, Humble Indie Bundle #3 just came out last Tuesday and is available here for two weeks only.
Like all past bundles, Humble Indie Bundle #3 contains five games. This time they are:
- Hammerfight: A side-scrolling game where players use the mouse (no buttons) to control odd flying ships that fight by swinging rocks at things. It's really hard at first, but very satisfying when you swing the hammer just right and smash the hell out of something.
- VVVVV: The only game in the pack I already owned. It's a side-scrolling platformer where instead of jumping, players can invert gravity. It's really hard and has too many trial-by-death puzzles for my taste, but the presentation is a well done Atari-style retro, and any Super Meat Boy fan will love it.
- Cogs: Players use sliding tiles to move mechanical pieces around and create various oddball machines. It's like The Incredible Machine with sliding tile puzzles underneath.
- Crayon Physics Deluxe: Like Scribblenauts, only fun. You solve puzzles by drawing things with crayons, which makes it simple enough so that anyone could play. Perfect time-waster.
- And Yet It Moves: A very challenging platformer like VVVVV, this time with the ability to turn the world instead of inverting gravity. This game is also coming out on Xbox 360 soon, so it's quite popular, but has all of the frustrating elements of VVVVV and less of the charm.
Together these games cost around $50 to buy individually, but this is where Humble Indie Bundle shines. You can buy them for however much you like, down to $0.01. Not only that, but you can decide how you want the money you do pay to be distributed between the developers of the games, two charities (EFF and Child's Play), and Humble Bundle Inc. You can even choose whether to pay with PayPal, Amazon Pay Now or Google Checkout. And there's no DRM, so once you've got the bundle you can do whatever you want with it.
I paid $10 for it. I thought about going near-free, but seeing how little money all the developers of these five games would have to split even at $10 made me reconsider. Notch was listed on the convenient "FEEL BAD FOR NOT PAYING THIS MUCH!" leaderboard, being the highest donor as of this writing, paying more than $4,000. Perhaps if more media companies were this up-front about how much money they were getting and how it was divvied up, people would feel worse about stealing them.
All the trolls would not.
But the Humble Indie Bundle team have created a checkout system that is easy-to-use, flexible and honest. The fact that they didn't have to deal with any publishers makes this possible. It's too bad Steam and other more regular digital distribution sites couldn't really do this since no one would allocate any money to game publishers. Which might not be such a bad thing, but unfortunately they still have all the money and thus get to assert their will. For now.