The third of the Humble Indie Bundles was released to great acclaim on July 26th and was available to download for as much or as little as you wanted to pay the developers until August 8th. In it, there are a variety of short and sweet games produced by small independent developers crossing a broad spectrum of genres and the third's contents were as follows:-
- Atom Zombie Smasher wherein you attempt to save citizens of a city from an oncoming zombie invasion in realtime strategy.
- And Yet It Moves which is best described as a Paper Mario-esque platformer where the player can rotate the world as needed to turn walls into floors etc.
- Crayon Physics Deluxe that, despite the name, isn't about the physics of crayons but rather the physics of a ball that you guide by drawing out a course with crayons.
- Cogs which is a simple sliding-blocks puzzle game with audio and 3-dimensional components as well, all presented in a cutesy steampunk style.
- Hammerfight is a physics engine wrapped in sword-swinging combat that aims for more realistic melee fighting than the usual 'press button, do the same attack as the last 6478 presses'.
- Steel Storm was introduced after the initial release and harks back to the old shooters of yore with the player controlling a hovertank, blasting enemies and grabbing powerups (also supports multiplayer play though I haven't tested it).
- VVVVVV has the silliest name of the bundle and looks like a pre-8-bit platformer but is in actual fact a puzzler where you have to flip between floor and ceiling to progress through each screen.
Though this release is officially number 3, there have been 4 in the series so far: Bundle #1, Bundle #2, Frozenbyte Bundle and of course Bundle #3.
The idea behind the series of bundles is to cut out the games distributors and offer them directly from the developers at a cost of whatever you, the purchaser, wish to donate. It can be obtained for as little as 1 cent, and if you are on Steam you can be given a key so that Steam will download, install and manage the games for you. There's often other freebies thrown in as well, such as those who grab a Bundle before a certain date get another game free of charge on top, or access to Minecraft for a while. For Bundle #3, there was a promotion whereby if you paid above the average donation, you'd get further games added in: Braid, Cortex Command, Machinarium, Osmos and Revenge of the Titans.
For 1 cent, you say
Financially, the Bundles have been a huge success for the game developers in combining lower costs by dealing directly with the playerbase and the donation system meaning those who wanted to support the teams behind it all could give more than what would have been the full retail price of the games on store shelves (estimated at approximately $50 all in); for example Minecraft's Notch tossed in $2000. This is despite the rampant piracy of the games, made easier by the intentional lack of DRM within the Bundle's games. Proceeds go to the developers and also to nominated charities such as Child's Play and Electronic Frontier Foundation.
Personally, I think this is a great initiative. If you don't pay $50 that's fine because it wouldn't have cost that much anyway, given there's no packaging, shipping or retailer involved: just some internet bandwidth costs and a website.
Of course, you'll get people that complain and whine about the games and it's funny to note that most of those paid the minimum of 1 cent for the lot as well. Perhaps they feel that as they haven't made much of an investment in it, they're not prepared to give it a proper chance or to overlook little imperfections. But enough about people's sense of entitlement! I'd expect Bundle #4 to be in the woorks soon...