The Humble Indie Bundle is a pay-what-you-want sale organized by independent game developer, Wolfire Games, which features five independent games, on three personal computing platforms with no DRM: World of Goo, Aquaria, Gish, Lugaru HD and Penumbra: Overture. We spoke with John Graham, the PR rep/Business Developer/Customer Service rep/Beard Grower at Wolfire, about how the project started and the ideology behind why they are doing it.
“Basically, we had a hunch that indies might be able to promote themselves,” Graham said, when asked how they started the project. Wolfire aren’t the only developer in this bundle, they also fetched other developers: “We bounced it off everyone else. In our minds was 2D Boy’s pay what you [want] sale, which went really well, and the Organic Indie Pre-order Pack, which we put on with the awesome guys at Unknown Worlds.”
The main difference between other pay-what-you-want-sales and the Humble Indie Bundle is the option for people to choose how to divide the money they give. The split is between the developers and two charities, Child’s Play and the Electronic Frontier Foundation. “We noticed that no one had really done that before, so it seemed like an extra flourish to make the bundle just a little bit more notable. We just wanted to give the power to the people and believed that if people liked our games and wanted us to succeed, they’d probably donate more than a penny and help spread the word."
This ideology of giving power to the people is something that runs throughout Wolfire’s offerings. They are seemingly adamant in their views of not having digital rights management and putting games on all major operating systems: Windows, Mac and Linux. Graham adds, “Yeah, the internet is a big place and when you’re small like us, the conventional rules that EA and Activision have to abide by don’t necessarily exist.”
Even so, Graham still believes in a balance between a traditional marketing plan and new ways to connect to users. He notes, “I guess it is all about balance but when you are tiny, the upside from doing something risky and eccentric is huge while the downside is that no one will care and you will have wasted your time. And that cost is pretty small, especially if you iterate quickly and try a lot of different things.”
One of those eccentric things, a rap song written and composed by Graham, was released as a promotional video for the bundle. “The rap happened because I needed a way to express every detail of the promo in about 30 seconds and there was a lot to explain. So the rap was an excuse to keep it fast, streamline it, and not bore people (at least I hope).”
Wolfire are still contemplating whether or not they will release a detailed report on sales similar to what 2D Boy did for their promotion. While Graham couldn’t say anything about any milestones or if he will dye his beard a different color like he did for their previous Organic Indie Pre-order Pack, he did tease an announcement for later this week saying, “No comment at this time, unfortunately, but there may be an announcement a little later in the week (might not be beard related though).”