We’ve been following the Humble Bundle for a while, both because it’s an interesting business model experiment and because the games are awesome. For the uninitiated: the Humble Bundle is a pay-what-you-want package of cross-platform, DRM-free indie games that gets re-issued regularly with a new selection of games plus a bunch of extras like soundtracks and concept art. Each package is available for a limited time, and the proceeds are split between the developers, selected charities and the people who organize the Bundles. They have pulled some impressive revenue numbers in the past, and the most recent bundle has yet again broken records, raising $1-million in the first five hours.
In some ways, the Humble Bundle is a “give it away and pray” approach, and not necessarily a model for the entire industry—but it also serves as a fantastic example of how to connect with fans and encourage them to spend money. Firstly, all games included in Humble Bundles are DRM-free and available for Windows, MacOS and Linux. Secondly, they put a lot of emphasis on the fact that your money is going straight to the developers and the charities—and they give you precise control over exactly how it is divided up. Thirdly, they offer added reasons to spend more than the minimum one cent: for $1 dollar you get a key to unlock the game on Steam, and there is usually a bonus game or two (or more) that is only available if you pay more than the average contribution (which of course also serves to keep pushing the average contribution up). That feeds into another great tactic: they reveal a bunch of live-updated stats about the Bundle as it sells, including sales and average contribution breakdowns by OS (notably, Linux users always have the highest average) and a leaderboard of top contributors. The leaderboard has regulars, too, like Minecraft developer notch, and the “HumbleBrony Bundle” (a group that does a collective fundraising effort within the Brony community), both of whom contribute to the tune of thousands.
All of this clearly works well to encourage participation and support, as the ever-growing numbers confirm. The current Bundle still has nearly two full weeks to go, and with such a huge rush in the first day, it’s sure to be the biggest one ever.