Once again, capitalism has struck. Humble Bundle, one renowned for their charity efforts by providing cheap games, has now come under fire. For those who don’t know, Humble Bundle’s mission was simple: you buy a bundle of games at different tiers with the promise that a portion of the purchase goes to charity. The pay-what-you-want model went over well with the consumer, and at the time Humble Bundle only took about 15%. The rest of the purchase was determined by the consumer using sliders to decide how much of their purchase went to charity.
Well, that’s gone now. Two days ago, Humble Bundle revealed their latest changes to the Humble Bundle and it hasn’t gone over well. The changes remove the slider, cap the donations to 15%, and change the split of the purchase. Now, by default, charities will get 5%, Humble Bundle will get 10%, and publishers get 85%. Customers can bump that 5 to 15 with the “Extra to Charity” option.
As you can imagine, the internet took to Twitter to express their displeasure and it went as well as you’d expect. The conversation has been a mess, but the overwhelming majority seem to put the blame on IGN for this move since they own Humble Bundle. Some users have accused them of making this more of a tax write off than a charity. While I’m no tax lawyer or an accountant, I wouldn’t be surprised if that played a role. Others, a vocal minority, see no issue with the move and even praise it. Their hope is that people leave this business model and give to charities out of the goodness of their heart.
However, looking at the split, I’m not sure this was a greedy move to make IGN more money. I think it might be a greedy move on the publishers end. Unless I’m missing something, they seem to benefit the most from this split. Don’t get me wrong, it’s still trash and scummy. But I think we should be mad at the right people. Now more than ever, publishers are finding ways to sustain their unsustainable growth. Would it be unreasonable to think that putting a squeeze on Humble Bundle would help do that? This isn’t to say IGN doesn’t benefit as much. I’ve always seen them as the media outlet that publishers please. This move would be no different, and would keep them in the publisher’s good graces.
Do I think this’ll be the end for Humble Bundle? Probably not. They’re still going to have bulk games for cheap prices. They’re still giving something to charity, which still makes people feel good. It’s just a bit of a PR blow. We’ll see in time how this pans out, but I predict that not a lot will change. Though, if a competitor ever wants to step up, now’s the best chance they’ll have.