Humble Bundle and THQ Shake Hands, Many Heads

by Rob Williams on December 5, 2012 in Editorials & Interviews, Gaming

When Humble Bundle announced a promotion featuring THQ’s games last week, what resulted was on par with a digital atom bomb. Long-time fans of the service felt betrayed, disgusted by the fact that the people behind it would go against their core values for a profit. But before we get too hasty, let’s look at things from a couple of different angles.

The Humbling, Final Thoughts

Yes, believe it or not, there’s some good to glean from THQ’s Bundle.

First and foremost, let’s not forget that charities stand to benefit from these sales. The more successful a Bundle, the more much-needed cash gets sent to these charities. The American Red Cross has long been a supported charity, and the folks there are some of the first people on the scene when needed – especially in events like Hurricane Sandy. It’s pretty sweet to be able to donate to a charity like this and score some great games on the cheap. 

What about the gamers who don’t have a lot of money to spend on games, either due to their location, personal situation or what-have-you? I know what it’s like to be broke and have no games to play – it sucks. It’s one reason why I can appreciate the Humble Bundle, because it allows anyone to get some excellent games for what they can afford. Can’t manage more than $5? That’s no problem as far as the folks at Humble Bundle are concerned.

A Bundle like this also keeps the game selection interesting. Across the 15 or so game-specific Bundles to date (excluding THQ’s), 15 titles have been offered twice, while 5 have been offered three times. It seems clear to me that the people at Humble Bundle realized that their selection was growing a little thin, and when they want to push out a new Bundle on a very regular basis, some creative thinking has to be employed. We have seen a Bundle for eBooks and music, but I’m talking games exclusively here.

Humble Bundle Games
Select games that have appeared in more than one Bundle

One of the much-lauded benefits of the Humble Bundle is that it promotes indie games – but let’s be realistic. How many games hit these bundles that you have not heard of before? Thanks to a casual perusing of various gaming sites and the Steam homepage, it’s a rare day when even one of the listed games is new to me. This is a stark contrast to the Indie Royale bundle, where it’s rare that I’ve heard of a single one of them. Interestingly, despite Indie Royal sticking to many of the same core values as Humble Bundle, it never seems to get the same level of respect. It’s doing a better job in promoting indie titles as far as I’m concerned. It could be that for some, there’s such thing as “too” indie, but the fact that Indie Royale doesn’t push for cross-platform games like Humble Indie Bundles do could be the real problem.

If you really want to get down to it, a sale like THQ’s could prove vital for the company, which is currently dealing with a poor financial situation at the moment. While a couple of million isn’t likely to save it from potential closure, it’s something – and to me, THQ is a publisher we really don’t want to lose. Recently, it’s been responsible for the spectacular Saints Row: The Third and Darksiders II. In the past, it’s developed and published many more.

Final Thoughts

Despite all of the backlash the company behind Humble Bundle has received this past week, it has made no follow-up statements, leading me to believe that nothing is going to change for the future. There’s no reason to apologize when it’s just business as usual, of course, but further clarification on its goals couldn’t hurt.

The company’s promotion of DRM-free and cross-platform content and its focus on the indie developer sure isn’t going to change anytime soon. We may see oddball Bundles like this come and go, but I have no reason to believe that we’ll see a change of heart or a move away from what made the Bundles popular to begin with. Humble Bundle launched with these core elements for a reason – the people who created it want the same things we do. Sometimes, it’s just not possible to implement them into each and every promotion – like this one. 

It may be time for some people to get off their high horses and take a promotion like this for what it is, while appreciating all that the Humble Bundle has done for the promotion of DRM-free content and the indie developer up to this point and for its promotion of these things going forward.

All that said, whether or not this mess will truly affect the Humble Bundle in the long-run, we’ll have to wait and see.

Page List

1. Introduction, The Bumbling
2. The Humbling, Final Thoughts

  • madmatTG

    My thoughts? Everyone that’s unhappy with this bundle should buy it for $1 and give 100% of the money to charity and get Steam gift keys and give the keys to someone less fortunate. They make a statement to THQ and Humble, help a charity and enrich the life of someone that could use it.

    • Marfig

      It still won’t answer the issue.

      • Rob Williams

        The pricing sliders exist for a reason, though it could be considered hypocritical to hate the premise of a Bundle and then buy it -anyway-. Still, want to make a point? Just slide that HB Tip down to 0. I am not so sure it’s going to make much of a difference though when it seems the vast majority have no problem with this kind of sale.

        • madmatTG

          No more hypocritical than leaving a $.02 tip to a poor waitperson. You’re voicing your displeasure in a way that may make them sit up and take notice.

      • madmatTG

        Moaning about it on discussion sites will help how? At least doing what I proposed would send a message to both parties. It’s called speaking with your wallet.

        • Marfig

          Oh c’mon! Drop the old — and boring already — “moaning” adage, will you? As if people couldn’t just express their opinions. Keep your opinion to yourself, is that it? Well then, keep your opinion of my opinion to yourself. Sheesh!

          Tell you what, your so-called proposal has the precise same effect of toilet paper in a cesspit. You really expect a concerted movement of tens of thousands of disparate people? On gaming no less? Right.

          Sorry if I don’t look excited about your idea. Want that to happen? Stop calling people moaners and always discuss your ideas and always defend your principles regardless of where you are. You’ll help shape opinions and form larger groups of like-minded individuals.

          • madmatTG

            Moaning, whining, bitching, complaining, whinging, pissing, crying, etc, etc, etc. It all adds up to bellyaching fruitlessly to anyone that’ll listen and even to those that could give a rat’s ass. What good do you think it’s going to do? Answer my question rather than coming over all emo about how I phrased it. Do you think that THQ or Humble is going to give a damn about ten thousand gamers COMPLAINING (there, happy?) about what they do? Hell no. Want to make them care? Then do something meaningful. In the terms I grew up with, put up or shut up.

          • Marfig

            Yeah, yeah, yeah. I’ve heard it all before.
            Discussing, forming opinions and then doing something about it isn’t your type. You like action movies.

            Sorry. But I still believe in discussing and debating, forming and trashing opinions. I like drama.

          • madmatTG

            The thing is that it’ll get talked to death and nothing will get done. Then it’ll happen again and the same thing will happen, everyone that doesn’t like it will complain yet do nothing else and no one but them will listen.

            You don’t like my idea? Cool. Come up with one of your own and implement it. Just do something because nothing comes from doing nothing and as far as Humble is concerned, nothing is exactly what is being done.

          • Marfig

            You want ideas? Why. I don’t even know how you stand on this matter. I don’t know you. All you have been doing is whining about my moaning.

            So here’s an idea:

            Don’t buy from Humble Bundle, not even $1. Don’t buy from THQ, not even one game. Oh, and about DRM. DRM is bad. Bad DRM, bad! So don’t buy games with DRM. We also don’t like big Ubisoft. Don’t buy Ubisoft games. And Origin is a piece of crap, don’t buy Origin games.

            The above is as much absurd as your idea that you can congregate tenths of thousands of consumers into buying the Humble Bundle at $1 without “Moaning, whining, bitching, complaining, whinging, pissing, crying” about it on public discussion groups. Impromptu.

            But hey, don’t let my whining and moaning discourage you from having a spontaneous baby one day.

          • madmatTG

            Go soak your head.

          • Marfig

            Thanks :)

            You wouldn’t believe the opportunities here. It’s mad. And pretty ones too.

  • Marfig

    It’s been a staple of computer gaming that no good thing lasts for long. Sooner or later it’s going to be tainted. It’s also been a staple of computer gaming that the consumer can be generally defined as an hypocrite. Me included. Let’s just call it for what it is, the entertainment industry can only be made almost entirely of hypocrites when we choose to discuss ethics around it. Putting our wallet where our mouth is? Not when we talk about computer gaming. Look at the sales.

    More than the fact Humble Bundle went to bed with THQ, what I find really outrageous however is the default 65% THQ cut. I’m still at awe at the cheekiness. Humble Bundle and THQ can kiss my buttocks. But only after I don’t wash for a week. Right now it’s to clean for these two SOBs.

    • Rob Williams

      Hypocrisy is at its worst when gaming’s involved, I swear. I’ve given in many times to things as well, just because I refuse to go without playing the latest blockbuster. I saw on Reddit last night where one BLOPS 2 player was seriously pissed-off at the game, and then went on to say once he got two more prestige’s, he’s done. To get to where he is at the current point would have taken a couple hundred hours :D

      Also, correct me if I’m wrong, but I thought 65% was standard for the developer? With 25% defaulting to charity and then 15% to Humble Tip.

      • Marfig

        To my knowledge yes. But this isn’t your typical Humble Bundle. THQ is a well funded multi-million dollar company that didn’t know how to handle its money when it had it. It’s not an indie developer trying to promote his creation.

        The fact both are deemed equal bugs me.

  • xOptix78

    I’ll play devil’s piggy back advocate here and say that the THQ bundle is pretty bad ass. If I had more free time and didn’t have Borderlands 2, I’d likely drop some cash on it. The Company of Heroes games alone are worth it and Saints Row The Third sweetens the deal.

    I love indie games and stand behind the developers, but Valve is running a business. It’s not like they dug through the THQ bargain bin to find crappy games from 10 years ago. These are quality titles.

    Upset at Valve/Steam? Go jump on Origin for a few minutes.

    Yeah, I thought so. Bleeding hearts.

    • Marfig

      What? Valve?

    • Rob Williams

      Aside from Valve having nothing to do with Humble Bundle, I agree ;-)

      • xOptix78

        Well poo. I always thought it was just a bunch of titles that Valve grabbed and offered them in the bundle. Colour me educated!

  • Marfig

    My name is all over this article comments section. Bah! :(

    But a though occurred to me (no, It’s safe. You can come out): We all know why THQ is doing this. Their financial troubles are putting them at serious risk of launching the next titles. The company can fold at any moment. What I find rather curious is that this move achieved in 6 days (assuming the 65% cut is the average) what Kickstarter can’t in a similar amount of time.

    THQ could have gone that venue and get help finishing their next two projects. The fact they didn’t is food for thought. One thing is for sure, this humble bundle was a stroke of genius for a company like THQ and it’s possible many other studios are getting designs on it. Who needs Kickstarter when you get humble bundle, right?…

  • Mike Frett

    I wouldn’t be surprised at all if Microsoft shaked a few hands there and cut some back room exclusive deal. It’s not beneath them at all.

    • Rob Williams

      Well, as it appears at the moment, nothing is going to change with regards to the indie/cross-platform/DRM-free bundles. The only difference is that we might see oddball bundles like this on occasion as well. I really can’t see many game publishers being so desperate to go this route like THQ was.

  • Toad

    Best bundle yet IMO