Sweet-Centred Discounts: Indie Piñata

If one thing has become clear to me over the last couple of years, it’s that Those Who Game need even more ways to spend their cash on discounted games. In the lull between digital sales events that are engineered with more precision than Black Friday’s SWAT support, wallets are exposed to a paltry forty two thousand bundles and Steam has not yet incorporated second-long flash sales into its infrastructure.

Good news arrives in the form of Indie Piñata, a collection of games selected by developers. They’re all on Steam and if you own one, you qualify for discounts on the rest. I’m not particularly interested in the discounts (too common), but I am intrigued by the idea of dev-curated collections. Particularly now that keeping track of ‘new’ releases on Steam has become rather difficult.

What is hopefully the first of many collections contains the following:

The Bridge, judged by John.

10,000,000, judged by Alec.

Mousecraft, NOT YET JUDGED.

Triple Town, sort of judged by John. The kinda follow-up looks smashing.

Contraption Maker is the recently released spiritual sequel to The Incredible Machine. Not judged but in my ‘pending’ box.

Flockers, not yet judged but I had a little go on it last week and quite enjoyed myself. Seems a tad more frantic than Lemmings, with levels built around control of flow as much as navigation around obstacles.

Super Splatters, studied by Craig.

Monaco, judged by Jim.

Jack Lumber. The RPS archives return no data when the query ‘Jack Lumber’ is entered into the gramophone’s ocular receptacle. The official site contains this dark warning – “Watch your cabin fill up with spunky forest critters that insist on crashing at your place after you have destroyed their woodland homes”.

Dungeon Hearts is also absent from our archives. It’s a fast-paced match-3 game.

If you own any of those (on Steam), you already qualify for a discount on the rest. And if you buy one, the discounts on the rest will unlock. To take advantage, click on the game of choice and follow the link to Steam, where the price will plummet in accordance with the power of piñata.


  1. Rise / Run says:

    I’ve been thinking a lot about how much games are discounted, and how little people (including myself) are willing to pay for them as a result.

    On the one hand, I don’t have US$50 kicking around for every game I want to own, but on the other hand, I get plenty of value for my purchase in hours of [enjoyable] use. People often criticize a $5-10 game as “only” 3 hours of play, but folks are quite willing to blow $20 for one ticket to see a movie (in a cinema), and $30-$40 for the DVD (or $10 once it’s reduced in price). And that’s only a couple hours of entertainment per viewing.

    I’m often hesitant to pick up certain games (even at $10) because I’m unsure if I will play it for more than 10minutes — if it’s not my cup of tea, I’ll just delete it. But when I pick up games like FTL for 100 hours, I feel I owe the developers more. In short, I’d be totally into a low price entry, pay-as-you-want subscription model. e.g., I buy your game for $1 and I pledge that for every 20 hours I play I’ll give you $5. That’s a pittance per hour of enjoyment, but I owe nothing if I don’t enjoy it enough to play, and it encourages developers to keep updating their product. I understand why _monthly_ subscriptions have died, but with digital content providers like Steam/GoG/Desura who can all track your playtime, something like this could work.

    • aliksy says:

      I don’t blow $20 to see a movie in a theater or $30 for a DVD. That’d be crazy. I don’t understand how other people spend their money.

      If there was a “pay more if you play more” model that would, for me, have a chilling effect on playing the games. It’d be like buying it over and over. “Ehh, I kind of liked GuildCraft, but not enough to pay another $4.” It’s a low cost per hour, but it’s still more than the “nothing” I’m accustomed to.

    • SpinalJack says:

      The only reason that wouldn’t work is because people will begrudge playing a game instead of enjoying it as they will be constantly clock watching.

      Episodic games are an example of where this might work, enjoy a game? pay for more content.

    • Frank says:

      If Subset Games (the developers of FTL) want my money, they just have to let me preorder their next game. They are officially on my very short “I’ll preorder anything they announce” list.

      I am glad your proposal will never be tried by any but the most evil corporations (because of the chilling effect aliksy mentioned).

      • Rise / Run says:

        Yes, I definitely agree with your points — that’s also why I suggest it as more as a subscribe-what-you-want model (which sounds inane, I know, we all want to spend as little as possible). For FTL, I didn’t buy it when it came out, because I’m horrible at many types of strategy games and don’t find them particularly enjoyable. But if I had been given the option, $1 buy-in if you’re willing to spend $5 per 20 hours played up to a ceiling of $20, I would have said “sold.”

        I mention it not because I think it’s a perfect idea, but because I think it’d be nice if people thought more about what a huge value per hour our hobby is. And it’d be nice to see some other systems in place than the current kickstarter and steeply-discounted-bundles.

        • Frank says:

          Yeah, with a ceiling, I do like that idea. I’d get the Bridge (featured in this deal) if it was set a a base price of $2, maxing out at $5 or so depending on time played.

          However, that would require some serious DRM. Steam could probably set it up, since it includes a “wallet” that tells them if you can pay.

    • LostInDaJungle says:

      As a musician, I liken the Steam sales to this:

      You’re playing a gig with a $20 cover charge, and the room is empty. No one has heard of your band, you’re not signed to a national label… Why keep the door charge high to get into an empty club?

      You drop the cover to $5, and people start filing in. You’re having more fun playing to a packed house, your band is getting heard by people… And 30 minutes later when you kick the cover back up to $20, you’re still getting more folks wanting to get into the busy club than folks willing to pay to get in when there was no one there.

      I wouldn’t have ever paid $10 for FTL, but I got it cheap, loved it, and have probably talked 20 other people into buying it.

  2. Frank says:

    The video guy seems to think “Monaco” is an Aztec word.

  3. GunnerMcCaffrey says:

    “sales events that are engineered with more precision than Black Friday’s SWAT support”

    I come here at least as much for lines like this as I do for the actual games coverage.

    So dense. So nougaty.

  4. Wytefang says:

    Ironically, I’m less interested in “dev curated collections” and more interested in the discounts.

    • MkMax says:

      this, im sorry about the developers, im sure they are really cool guys but they are not ice cold enough to discount their own games to the point of making me care about games i didnt care about in the first place

  5. desolation0 says:

    I see more the total value put into the indie scene as a result of bundles, instead of the small amount that each bundle nets per game. As much as indie developers are getting less out of me in cash on a per-game basis than their AAA competitors might be expected to receive (generally even they only get $5 or maybe $7.50 for the “complete” edition out of me), I’ve bought a ton more indie games than I ever would have thanks to the bundle system. Prior to bundles existing, I was entirely in the camp of “Why pay $5 – 7.50 for an Indie game when I know I’ll be able to pay that much for a AAA title I know I want on sale at some point?” which meant almost no cash was going in the indie direction. Now, just in the last Steam sale, I spent money on several indie games I’d had my eye on thanks to the publicity bundles have helped generate. People generally weren’t devoting themselves much to reviewing indie games, that I could find, so I had little knowledge and opinion to base a purchase on even if I had somehow become interested. All told, bundles have fleeced hundreds of dollars out of my normally-tight wallet, just on the chance I might enjoy a few games I hadn’t heard of to that point at a relatively great value. I think the indie ecosystem as a whole is better off for having the bundles, despite the relatively reduced valuation of the games.