Thursday, October 27, 2011

Attack of the Killer Indie Bundles

News has been floating around lately since the launch of Indie Royale, a new digital distribution site with a novel, but familiar way of doing business.

They sell indie games in bundles for one low, low price!

Not unlike the phenomenally successful Humble Bundle (that now grace the internet 1-2 times per year), Indie Royale is a great venue for indie developers to get exposure (and sales). But at the same time, this apparent copy-catting feels a bit strange, doesn't it? What exactly is the difference between this and the venerable humbleable bundelable?

Let's examine the differences:

The Humble Bundle is a charitable venture that promotes indie games with its primary intent being fundraising. While it's backed and managed by a singular indie developer, it's scope is wide and decidedly not game-oriented. It aims to give consumers and creators alike a way to contribute to the needy via charities like EFF (An advocacy group for electronic media and art) and Child's Play (a program that takes donations of video games (and paraphernalia, and cash!) as a means to aid needy kids). It's not purely a business per se, but its recent success has catapulted it into both financial solvency as well as cultural popularity. The Humble Bundle is about games, but not really about games.

Indie Royale is a joint venture between The Indie Games Blog (part of the press group owned by Gamasutra) and Desura (a well-known digital distribution business). It's about games! It's about indie games, more specifically. Their aim is to promote and sell indie games that have been vetted by themselves and other notables. It's clearly subjective, but if you've spent some time on either of these sites, you'll see that they're very well tread (and it's never easy to stay humble when promoting oneself!). It appears that Indie Royale's primary intent is simply about selling games, and they do it by offering bundles every 2 weeks at low, low prices. There's a tiny twist: the price of the bundle starts at a certain price, and then will change based on what people are paying for it. For every person who pays the listed price (known as the "minimum"), the price goes up by 1-2 cents. For every person who "beats the minimum" (by a reasonable amount, approximately 2x the minimum) the price goes down 1-2 cents. Interesting!

I'd say it's worth checking out. The launch bundle includes quite a few well-reviewed games for around $5. While it isn't necessary charitable, I think it's a great way to support your favorite indie devs, as well as get exposed to some new ones. It's got a good model running too, since their releases are far more frequent (and more financially sound) than the Humble Bundle.

Take a look, and share your thoughts!