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  1. #1

    The death of Pay-What-You-Want?

    After the amazing surge in crowd funded projects the current round of indie bundles looks a bit pathetic. The latest offerings of the Humble Bundle have been underwhelming, the Indie Gala's current games average 50 on metacritic and the current Indie Royale is doing rather terribly. Even if these bundles are still earning money, it cannot be seen as anything like the good old World of Goo days.

    Were PWYW bundles a bubble that was bound (and forced by the lack of games) to eventually burst? Is the rise to power of crowd-funding perhaps linked to the decline of bundles? Does gaming not have enough room for multiple payment models?
    Last edited by hexagonalbolts; 25-03-2012 at 03:28 PM.

  2. #2
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus jnx's Avatar
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    With the rate of new bundles, it was inevitable that they run out of games. Can't really see any connection to this crowd-funding thing, since the bundle games always have playable versions to offer.
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    Secondary Hivemind Nexus vinraith's Avatar
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    I can't help but look at the rise of Kickstarter as positive progress. We've gone from "here's a miniscule amount of money for a bunch of games I probably don't want" to "here's a crapload of money to make me a game I definitely do want." Hording fluff was eventually going to die off, once everyone has a Steam backlog of 500 games (half of which they don't ever want to play) consumption of low cost, low interest titles was bound to dry up. Letting people pay to get games made that they're actually interested in playing, on the other hand, may just save the industry after all. We'll see.
    Last edited by vinraith; 25-03-2012 at 04:07 PM.

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    I'm a little surprised by the decline in quality of the bundle games. Of course you're going to run out of big names who are willing to participate pretty quickly, but there are thousands of small indie developers out there who could use the publicity. I'm disappointed to find few if any hidden gems.

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    The death of bundles filled with crap that nobody wants, I'd imagine. Anyway, now kickstarter has come along there is another fad to milk for a while...
    Irrelevant on further examination of the rest of the thread.

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    Secondary Hivemind Nexus b0rsuk's Avatar
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    Indie Royale and Indie Gala never had any success to start with ! The whole indie bundle stuff was started by Humble Indie Bundle initiative, and it's doing fine. Their current bundle is not impressive (Android...), but the previous one from 3 months ago was record-breaking:

    Over $2,000,000 money, more than 380,000 bundles sold.
    http://blog.humblebundle.com/post/14...eaks-2-million

    So it's premature to say bundles are finished. There seems to be a strong correlation between perceived quality of games and money money paid.

  7. #7
    Quote Originally Posted by b0rsuk View Post
    Indie Royale and Indie Gala never had any success to start with ! The whole indie bundle stuff was started by Humble Indie Bundle initiative, and it's doing fine. Their current bundle is not impressive (Android...), but the previous one from 3 months ago was record-breaking:

    Over $2,000,000 money, more than 380,000 bundles sold.
    http://blog.humblebundle.com/post/14...eaks-2-million


    So it's premature to say bundles are finished. There seems to be a strong correlation between perceived quality of games and money money paid.
    An excellent point, that's good to know. I do agree with the idea that kickstarter seems like an evolution in terms of people paying for exactly what they want, where as with the bundles it all felt a bit vague, developers getting money that I would have given to other developers because I already owned those games in the bundle, getting games I didn't want, etc...

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    Lesser Hivemind Node TailSwallower's Avatar
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    I don't think there's a direct correlation between the recent Kickstarter successes and the poor bundles, I think it was just a matter of time before people got bundle fatigue.

    It's kind of gotten to the point where I'd rather pay more for a single game that I did want to play rather than buy a bundle for cheap that only has the one game I'm interested in. It doesn't really make sense from a purely economic standpoint, but that's how I feel.
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    Secondary Hivemind Nexus alms's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by hexagonalbolts View Post
    The latest offerings of the Humble Bundle have been underwhelming, the Indie Gala's current games average 50 on metacritic and the current Indie Royale is doing rather terribly. Even if these bundles are still earning money, it cannot be seen as anything like the good old World of Goo days.
    With the huge headstart HIB got, there must be a lot of competition among devs to get their games in it. The connections are also very important (I wouldn't know how to explain HIB Voxatron or IV otherwise), and from the looks of it the italian guys running IG weren't really at the heart of the scene. Their second bundle marked a definite improvement, and there's still hope for this one to get better. Regardless of how much money they're making, it's still cash they would have had a hard time putting together otherwise.

    As for IR doing terribly: it sold 9,000 copies in a couple of days. That, in my book, is a great success considering how non-HIB bundles generally fare and I can only wonder how long it takes for Ninjabee to put together those numbers on the PC. The full-fledged bundles sell between 25 and 40 thousands copies IIRC which I'm sure gets Desura a lot of (much needed) new users.

    BeMine2 is looking very good as well, with Deathspank alone being well worth the entire bundle. Despite the technical problems at launch (every successful bundle has had teething problems), the first bundle was a considerable achievement.

    Quote Originally Posted by hexagonalbolts View Post
    Were PWYW bundles a bubble that was bound (and forced by the lack of games) to eventually burst?
    If there's anything to be said about bubbles, it's that they inflate for much longer than most people would normally think possible. So if indeed you are right, either you're the Gordon Gekko of bundle economy or it's going to last some more. My opinion is many players are just new to the game (pardon the pun) and will (have to) get better at it.

    As for games, only a small number of indies have already ended up in a bundle - plenty of good ones still around.
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    Secondary Hivemind Nexus alms's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by TailSwallower View Post
    It's kind of gotten to the point where I'd rather pay more for a single game that I did want to play rather than buy a bundle for cheap that only has the one game I'm interested in. It doesn't really make sense from a purely economic standpoint, but that's how I feel.
    Maybe it's just backlog fatigue? :)
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  11. #11
    Lesser Hivemind Node Bhazor's Avatar
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    The interesting part of Kickstarter for me is just how much waste it shows in the original system.
    The Double Fine kickstarter has earned over $3,500,000 from less than 90,000 backers paying an average of $40. Now if you were a AAA studio and sold less than that in the opening weekend it would be labelled an absolute failure and the studio would probably see dozens of sackings.

    So how many millions must it cost to make a triple A game? More importantly, where does it all go?

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    http://vgsales.wikia.com/wiki/Most_e...ve_video_games - There you go Bhazor. Not sure how accurate that is, but gives a good idea. For a lot of the AAA titles, the cost probably goes to mostly marketing. A large proportion probably also goes into paying the large teams working on the title.

    3.5 mil is a piddling amount if this was going to be a AAA FPS game. Having said that, I would imagine it would be a fairly good one for a 2D point and click adventure game (Sam & Max ep 1 was only $900,000 according to the link, so I can't imagine the full season was much different from $3.5 million and that had a 3D engine.)

  13. #13
    Lesser Hivemind Node Bhazor's Avatar
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    Its a wierd situation where marketing costs three times more than it cost to make the game and then you declare it a failure because you couldn't recoup the $100million you spent on advertising it.

    My mind is blown.

    Also according to the link S&M was $400,000.

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    Quote Originally Posted by TailSwallower View Post
    It's kind of gotten to the point where I'd rather pay more for a single game that I did want to play rather than buy a bundle for cheap that only has the one game I'm interested in. It doesn't really make sense from a purely economic standpoint, but that's how I feel.
    It's more a problem of the games they're picking. The Indie Royale bundle for example would have been a no-brainer for me. Except I bought both Greed and Grotesque Tactics a couple of years ago, so there's the main draw for me gone.
    In this case they've shot themselves in the foot with their marketing. I could easily have been persuaded to buy the bundle if I knew the secret game was something I didn't already own, since the remaining games are intriguing enough that I could almost be persuaded to purchase. Now they're dependent on me actually remembering to check in next week to see what the game is, and the odds on that are fairly slim.

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    Lesser Hivemind Node Juan Carlo's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by b0rsuk View Post
    Indie Royale and Indie Gala never had any success to start with ! The whole indie bundle stuff was started by Humble Indie Bundle initiative, and it's doing fine. Their current bundle is not impressive (Android...), but the previous one from 3 months ago was record-breaking:

    Over $2,000,000 money, more than 380,000 bundles sold.
    http://blog.humblebundle.com/post/14...eaks-2-million

    So it's premature to say bundles are finished. There seems to be a strong correlation between perceived quality of games and money money paid.
    I agree. I think it's all about the games being offered. The bemine bundle, for example, sold pretty well--much better than any of the indieroyales or indiegalas--mainly just because it had some good games. The current batch of indieroyale/indiegala bundles are only selling poorly because the games are shit.

    I think it's a trend that's on the wane, but I don't expect HIB to go anywhere any time soon. They have the brand recognition to attract the more popular games and even their lackluster bundles tend to make at least half a million.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Bhazor View Post
    Also according to the link S&M was $400,000.
    Weird, not sure where I got 900k. It would have been a lot less than 3.5 mil for the complete season then.

  17. #17
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus alms's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Juan Carlo View Post
    I agree. I think it's all about the games being offered.
    I can't really explain the difference in revenue between HIB and the other bundles in a much clearer way than this:

    google: "site:arstechnica.com bundle", and see how many indie bundles get mentioned in a mainstream tech press outlet other than HIB. Is there any mention of BeMine, IndieRoyale or whatnot? no.

    HIB has connected with a legion of buyers who, for the most part, have nothing to do with indie gaming. Maybe not even gaming.
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    Quote Originally Posted by hexagonalbolts View Post
    After the amazing surge in crowd funded projects the current round of indie bundles looks a bit pathetic. The latest offerings of the Humble Bundle have been underwhelming, the Indie Gala's current games average 50 on metacritic and the current Indie Royale is doing rather terribly. Even if these bundles are still earning money, it cannot be seen as anything like the good old World of Goo days.

    Were PWYW bundles a bubble that was bound (and forced by the lack of games) to eventually burst? Is the rise to power of crowd-funding perhaps linked to the decline of bundles? Does gaming not have enough room for multiple payment models?
    Too many bundles imo. I honestly can't keep up.

  19. #19
    Network Hub MD!'s Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by vinraith View Post
    I can't help but look at the rise of Kickstarter as positive progress. We've gone from "here's a miniscule amount of money for a bunch of games I probably don't want" to "here's a crapload of money to make me a game I definitely do want." Hording fluff was eventually going to die off, once everyone has a Steam backlog of 500 games (half of which they don't ever want to play) consumption of low cost, low interest titles was bound to dry up. Letting people pay to get games made that they're actually interested in playing, on the other hand, may just save the industry after all. We'll see.
    I hope you're right. I worry, though, about pre-payment in any form. Obviously there's a huge difference between funding a Kickstarter project and pre-ordering a game that is already funded and set for distribution, but I still can't get fully on-side with the concept of paying for something before you have any possible way of knowing that it will meet even basic standards of quality, or in fact exist at all.

    I definitely agree that the death of game-hoarding would be a good thing for all of us, though. High incidence of thoughtless and unnecessary impulse-purchasing has just as much potential to corrupt a free market as pre-purchasing does, without the potential benefits of the latter.
    Last edited by MD!; 27-03-2012 at 01:19 AM.

  20. #20
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus vinraith's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by MD! View Post
    I hope you're right. I worry, though, about pre-payment in any form. Obviously there's a huge difference between funding a Kickstarter project and pre-ordering a game that is already funded and set for distribution, but I still can't get fully on-side with the concept of paying for something before you have any possible way of knowing that it will meet even basic standards of quality, or in fact exist at all.

    I definitely agree that the death of game-hoarding would be a good thing for all of us, though. High incidence of thoughtless and unnecessary impulse-purchasing has just as much potential to corrupt a free market as pre-purchasing does, without the potential benefits of the latter.
    Yes, I very much agree with you about the flipside of all this, and I must admit I haven't chipped in to any kickstarter project partly for that reason. The potential for the entire thing to collapse is enormous, but as you say I think this risky path at least has the potential to move the industry in a positive direction, whereas reliance on impulse-hording is a death trap.

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