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HomeFeaturesArt & EntertainmentLate to the Game(s): Beyond Games - Humble Bundles offer digital variety

Late to the Game(s): Beyond Games – Humble Bundles offer digital variety

By: Jeremy D. Wells

Carter County Times

Back when the Humble Bundle site was first launched, they focused on games. Specifically, indie games, or games offered by developers working outside of the big studios and publishers. It was a great way for these indie developers to get attention and sales, and the Humble Bundle model – pay what you want, starting with a dollar and add to it to get more – attracted a lot of attention. Not only did the Humble Bundles, then and now, allow you to pay as little as a dollar for some interesting content, they also allowed you to choose where that money went. The site, then and now, employed sliders that purchasers could use to determine how much of their dollar went to the game developer, how much went to the charity the particular bundle supported, and how much went to Humble Bundle as a “tip” for hosting the sale and the content. 

While some of these games were offered as digital keys for redemption on Steam, Desura or other platforms, another feature that attracted a lot of folks was the ability to download versions directly from the Humble Bundle site without digital rights management (DRM), a system that requires online connectivity either at game install, game launch, or during gameplay to verify that the person playing the game has purchased the copy and is allowed to play it. While DRM is intended to stop the pirating of games – an understandable position for companies and developers who have poured vast amounts of time and money into a game and need it to make money so they can earn a living – it often resulted in games being unplayable if the owner of the game was on the road, attempting to play on a laptop in an airplane, or otherwise wanted to play somewhere without internet access. Some folks also complained that the DRM made the gameplay stutter or otherwise caused issues when internet connectivity was slow or spotty. Still others complained that some DRM limited the number of times a game could be installed, so if a user bought a new computer, they might not be able to install the game again without jumping through hoops to deauthorize it on their original machine. Some just thought they should be able to do whatever they liked with a game they purchased, even if that meant allowing a friend to install and play it. 

Nowadays, while Humble Bundle still offers games, and still offers the option to download some of those games directly from their site, they’ve branched out significantly. They’ve offered games from large publishers, including AAA titles for console games instead of the PC and mobile game markets they initially focused on. They also began offering audiobooks, music, and e-books. Now, in addition to those offerings, they regularly offer software, and digital assets for use by game makers like royalty free sound and music files, textures, maps, and pixel art. They also offer a lot of assets for tabletop gamers, from digital files for printing on 3D printers, like game pieces and terrain assets, to printable maps, to RPG campaigns and lore books as e-books. 

They also now offer a subscription service that – much like Xbox Live Gold for the Xbox console – allows subscribers to download a selection of games each month. They also sell individual titles directly from their digital storefront. It’s a big move from where the service started, but underneath it’s still the same beast. Just bigger and more evolved, like the final form of a Pokémon. 

And, if you choose to buy one of their bundles, you can still get a lot of good content for as little as a dollar, while supporting a charity and choosing exactly how those funds will be distributed. If you haven’t checked them out, or haven’t checked them out in a while, I highly recommend it. There are definitely worse ways to spend a dollar. 

Contact the writer at editor@cartercountytimes.com

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