Humble Monthly Delivers You Mystery Bundles

Humble, makers of occasionally fine videogame bundles, have just launched Humble Monthly. It’s a subscription service where you pay $12 (around £7.92) per month to have an assorted collection of games delivered to your inbox. The hooks are: Humble curate the games; it’ll include games that haven’t featured in bundles before; and you don’t know what you’re going to get.

That last point is of particular interest to me. I am overwhelmed with choice on a daily basis, whether it’s what game to play or what Netflix show to watch. I like it when things limit my options or make some of the decisions for me. We try to do something similar here at RPS with our Game of the Month. The idea of paying money to, essentially, limit your choice – and add a little mystery, to boot – is more appealing than common sense would suggest.

Of course, this isn’t an original idea. IndieBox already do something similar with physical deliveries, and the magazines I’d read as a kid were full of adverts for mail order CD and book subscription services that worked essentially the same way. It’s also a significant change from the way normal Humble bundles operate, in which you set your own price and select the split between Humble, the developer of the game, and the charities of your choice. For the monthly subscription, a fixed 5% rate of monthly proceeds goes to charity, while there’s no information on what the split is between the developer and Humble.

The Humble Monthly page also doesn’t say anywhere how many games you’re going to get each month, which means that it’s ultimately difficult to judge whether you’re getting value for money and what the odds are of getting a game you like. If you sign up right now, you get instant access to Legend of Grimrock 2 – which all on its own is a bargain at $12 – and you get the first batch of games on November 6th.

You get to keep the games if you unsubscribe at a later date, of course, so perhaps it’s worth a flutter for the first month anyway. Tell me.

65 Comments

  1. monkeytommo says:

    I’ve definitely got bundle fatigue. I used to love the humble bundles, quite often opting to pay over the average!

    This just seems like a terrible idea, and I can see them facing a lot of criticism from disgruntled punters when the games aren’t up to scratch!

    I know it’s all for a good cause… Well, 5% is! But that just doesn’t feel like much of a hook any more.

    • Pazguato says:

      Agreed.

      Besides, I don’t want to support these shaddy business practices: paying in advance for things you don’t know. These monthly subscriptions are a trend right now (blades for shaving, clothes, coffee…), and as a trend I hope will vanish over time.

      Plus, the far PC is from monthly subscription console kind, the better.

      • neoncat says:

        Yeah, this kinda sounds interesting, but there’s no way it’ll work.

        My taste in games has only become more and more, er… “snooty”… “picky”… “refined”… A load of random games dropped on my doorstep would result in most of them being chucked immediately.

        Also, you just know that you’re already going to own half the titles they send out (all the good ones anyways…)

        • boom51 says:

          They’re not even giving any incentive to take the risk. Most services like this advertise something like “guaranteed double your cost in MSRP value of items” to make you willing to gamble. They’ve essentially just said, give us $12 and we’ll give you “stuff”. If it were $100 MSRP worth of 5 different games and I own one and one is a boring indie racing game… no big deal, I’ll still be getting 60 bucks worth of value but we don’t have any sort of info on the value or quantity of games. I doubt they’ll give out crappy games but consumer trust in gaming is pretty low right now and $12 can buy me a game I’m sure that I want.

          • epeternally says:

            And with how cheap games are and how frequently they go on sale, it can’t just be $amount off MSRP, they need to be offering 50-90% off these game’s lowest sale price in order to keep people interested and feeling like it’s worth their while. Even then, by the time you reduce it to just the games you wanted, you probably aren’t saving much over buying just those games on sale, but at least if it’s that discounted you’ve got appeal to deal hunting collectors.

      • Sabbatai says:

        Paying a fee once per year, as I have elected to, to receive coffee and razors delivered to my home is one of the best things that has ever happened to me.

        I know the quality of both products because they allowed me to have a free trial. Both were good enough quality for me to agree to the subscription.

        I don’t see a problem with the trend when it works like that.

        It even saves me money… AND time.

        • Luciferous says:

          I’m glad someone else gets it!

          I have the coffee one, paid a one off fee that saved me about 30% on what I’d normally pay per year on coffee AND I get to change the coffees that come to see if I can find The One.

          Tempted by the razor one as well because I am horrendous at buying new blades…

          On point though – the Humble Bundle thing could be a massive hit or miss depending on what’s in it – I wish the charity cut was more substantial, that way if I got a dud one month I could write it off as ‘Oh, well, at least I did my bit for charity’.

          Sadly a measly 5% isn’t quite enough.

        • Diziet Sma says:

          Totally agree with you… the analogy between the coffee one and the humble bundle breaks down though. With my coffee ‘subscription’ I know what I’m getting in advance, can suspend it, cancel it or change it (or all three).

          With the humble bundle offer err… I don’t know what I’m getting and I can’t change the schedule (e.g. I’ll have this months bundle in two weeks please not the first as I’m short of cash).

          So yes, one is a superb idea, the other is not.

    • xyzzy frobozz says:

      I’m with you there.

      My initial reaction was – OK! I’ll do it!

      Thgen I thought about the fact that I have stacks of games already (around 600), so the chances of paying $12 for something that I already have are high.

      With games being so cheap these days, I’d rather curate my own collection.

      • PegasusOrgans says:

        I got over 1000 on steam (and a bunch on GoG)thanks to bundles and massive sales. Hell, I even got the game they’re offering if you sign up! There really in no reason for anyone who has been into bundles to sign up. Only people new to PC gaming can really get the full benefits from this, and I’d quickly suggest this to a new PC gamer.

  2. Didero says:

    Isn’t this basically pre-ordering a Humble Bundle, except with even less knowledge of what the end result will be than with usual pre-ordering?
    It seems especially strange that they don’t even mention how many games you’re getting. That seems pretty crucial information.
    They also mention all the games require Steam and Windows, and ‘maybe’ more platforms, which feels limiting too, since they used to push Linux and DRM-free games so much.
    It all feels a bit weird to me.

    • trashmyego says:

      It’s almost nothing like the Humble Bundles because of how little of the proceeds go to charity. Only 5%. I was very surprised to see that.

      • Pazguato says:

        In their next experimental bundle only 1% will go to charity. And then all we’ll forget about their original charity connection. Bit a bit.

      • epeternally says:

        The 5% number is particularly obscene since they give 10% from store purchases, and that’s basically the same as buying on Steam or GMG, no connection to their original bundle foundations. It betrays the pure greed underlying this model.

  3. Bull0 says:

    No no no. If someone is asking you to buy something unseen, it’s because in all likelihood once you’d seen it you wouldn’t buy it. These things are all over the place now and they’re totally crap for the consumer.

  4. rustybroomhandle says:

    Eesh, if you are not a Windows user I would suggest ye stay well clear of this, else it’d be a rather big gamble.

    • Premium User Badge

      Alfy says:

      Yep. As a Mac user, I would touch this with a ten foot pole.

      • DanMan says:

        Here’s your ten foot pole then:

        ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

  5. robertlepervers says:

    No

  6. Pich says:

    Oh boy, i can’t wait for Fucking Inflatable Fucking Crown Simulator 2016!

  7. GernauMorat says:

    Ha ha ha no.

  8. trn says:

    I’ve occasionally gone in for these ‘blind’ sales at gog.com. The trouble is, because my Steam, Gog, Desura (etc.) accounts aren’t synchronised, too often I end up getting games I already own. I don’t want ANOTHER copy of Guacamelee, as much as I love it.

    If this is about gamers encountering new games, they are on much safer ground building a dedicated set of websites and youtubers and Steam curators who play mainstream and obscure titles and from whose opinions and recommendations you can learn whether they’d like to take a chance on a title or not.

    If this is about possibly getting a AAA cheap – given the nature of the PC marketplace, there are far more reliable ways to do this. And when you do, you can give 5% of the value to charity and feel warm inside.

  9. vlonk says:

    The only hook is “games that have not been featured in other bundles” which is still as vague as it gets. Other than that this concept combines all the negatives of the “cat in the bag” with bad pacing of acquisition that comes with bundle purchases. “Hidden gems” does not inspire much hope either and “timeless classics” is what my gog account is already good for.

  10. rustybroomhandle says:

    This is worrying. :/

    If this does not prove to be successful, are they going to scrap it, or do other weird stuff like force Humble Monthly exclusivity deals on developers to make sure these games will never be available in any other bundles?

    In general I think Humble flew off the rails the second the words “venture capital” entered their vocabulary.

    Naaaw, if you like monthly surprise content, I suggest subscribing to The Indie Box instead.
    link to theindiebox.com
    With it, even if you have the games already, they throw in a bunch of fun stuff.

    If the “charity” thing is something that floats your boat, then rather donate to charities of your choice separately. It’s far less exploitative like that.

  11. Crimsoneer says:

    I’d quite like a multiplayer version of this. A company sends me a small multiplayer game I haven’t heard about, and sets me up with a few other people in the same boat, like some online futuristic book club.

    • JohnS says:

      Ooh, I like the sound of this one!

    • frightlever says:

      You want Tinder for online games.

    • trjp says:

      As nice as that sounds, it won’t work because people never want to play the same thing at the same time.

      You could make a “?day night game club” whereby you get and play a given game at a given time/day I suppose – but timezones and – it would be hard work.

  12. slerbal says:

    Yeah, like everyone else has said: no! I have bundle fatigue, too many unplayed games and am trying to be far more selective and this only gives 5% to charity. Definitely not.

    Hasn’t been a humble bundle i’ve wanted this year, so definitely, definitely not.

  13. rocktart says:

    As Graham says this isn’t really a new concept, you see it in lots of places. Wine clubs, veg boxes, singles clubs, and that sodding graze box thing that has a voucher in everything I buy from Amazon,. I just looked at twitter and there is an ad for a monthly craft beer selection. Now Humble are doing one and it has the same appeal and advantages as all the others.
    No you don’t get to choose what you get – that is called shopping, that is not what this is.
    Yes you may get something you don’t like, or something you do – that is the point.
    Yes the 5% charity donation is smaller than I usually select for humble purchases, but it is 5% higher than other online game retailers.

    Personally I’ll try it for a couple of months and see if I like the general direction of the selections. At the very least I’ll be playing Legends of Grimrock 2 for a bit.

    • gunny1993 says:

      If you’re in the UK then that Craft Beer selection thing is actually really damn good (If it’s honest brew) lets you select the type of beer you like so they only send you stuff of that type XD

      • spacedyemeerkat says:

        Yup, Honest Brew is really rather good. I’ve been subscribed for about seven months now.

        Be nice if you were able to tick a box for brews you don’t want to receive ever again, though.

    • Ajmist says:

      You make it sound like the other companies don’t give to charity. That seems unlikely to me as in the UK 98 of the FTSE 100 companies donate to charity with some giving as much as 5% of profits (22 give away more than 1%). So 5% is probably more than others give but I doubt it’s 5% more.

    • anHorse says:

      The difference is that all of those are consumables.
      Getting a wine you already own is not a drawback, getting a game you already own is the same as getting nothing

      • phlebas says:

        Unless it’s giftable, which Humble bundle keys tend not to be?

      • malkav11 says:

        This. If I subscribe to a service for randomized comestibles (and I did for a while – graze), then I either get new stuff I like, new stuff I don’t like, toss and can probably opt out of receiving again if the service is properly set up, or more of something I already knew I liked. That’s fine and probably value for money. With videogames, well… I already have 1,800 of them on Steam alone and getting the same game a second time does absolutely nothing for me. If -Steam- did this sort of thing and guaranteed you wouldn’t get anything already in your library, I might be vaguely tempted (though probably not for $12 unless it was also guaranteed to have come out in the last six months). From Humble? I stand a REALLY good chance of it being duplicates or nothing I’d spend money on.

        (Of course, it’s even a worse value proposition for something like Loot Crate or Woot’s random T-shirt sales because odds are pretty good I won’t want whatever it is and then it’s a physical object taking up space in my apartment.)

  14. baozi says:

    Hm, something tells me that if you’re overwhelmed by choice, a service that gives you more choice by automatically adding a few games to your backlog every month isn’t that good of an idea. But maybe I’m conflating things here and this has nothing to do with backlogs.

  15. Michael Fogg says:

    Just wait for all the Youtube celebs to start making ‘Humble unboxing’ videos. Conspicous consumption, yay! At least it’s not quite as inane as that Lootbox stuff.

  16. MadMinstrel says:

    They’re pushing way too many bundles lately. In the early days, the bundles were nice because they consisted mostly of moderately well-known titles. Now I keep getting at least a couple bundle emails a week, but they’re never very interesting because I’ve never once heard about any of the included games.

    Also things like Humble Ubisoft Bundle? Wherein they give out their really old crap to everyone, but the (still somewhat old) titles someone would potentially want to play are behind a 15-20$ paywall? Doesn’t seem all that humble to me at all. People who can’t afford that (like kids!) are likely to feel like they’re getting an elder sibling’s old clothes for birthday.

    • ExPostNinja says:

      “Bundle fatigue” has certainly become a thing; I fear to confess the sheer number of games sitting in my Steam library due to bundle purchases that I otherwise don’t care about. And I don’t even jump in on many of them, usually saving it for situations wherein I’d already considered buying a game at the price offered and see everything else as a bonus.

  17. ramirezfm says:

    Wow, all the negativity. It’s almost the same as PS+ which is lately shit, but generally quite a nice idea. For a small price you get some random games. Yes, some might be crap, some might be cool, but it’s $12 and you are a somewhat nice person as 5% goes to charity. I’ll see what’s included in the first one and maybe join later (I already have Legend of Grimrock 2, otherwise I’d prolly jump right in).

    • malkav11 says:

      It’s way more expensive than PS+, though. PS+ is like $50 for a year, and that’s if you didn’t get it on sale the way I did while I had an active PS+ subscription. Also, console games cost more on average. And the concept of bundles hasn’t really been a thing for them either. It’s a very different value proposition. And still maybe not a great bargain for anyone with a significant existing game collection on Playstation systems.

  18. Eclipse says:

    at this point, I have so much backlog that I’d rather close my eyes, scroll my steam games list for a bit and then pick a random one from there than to spend $12 a month for random games, it will feel just the same :\
    So while it looks like a nice way to discover new games: don’t do this people, you know you’ll never play them, save your money to support a single, worthwhile developer at day one release instead (and then play the damn game maybe! :P)

  19. Slazer says:

    With 300+ games on steam and plenty on gog, I just fear that I already own 60% of what this would get me

  20. deadfolk says:

    Almost tempted to try it for the first month or two simply because they are bound to start strong just to pull people in.

    But then again, I don’t want to support the whole idea of buying this stuff blind. Nah, I think I’m out. Probably.

  21. Cross says:

    So now pre-order culture has even infected the once noble Humble company. My answer to this is a flat no. I am not giving money on faith that i will get games wot are not only good, but within my tastes. You’d be foolish to buy into this.

  22. Premium User Badge

    boundless08 says:

    I don’t see why everyone is giving out about this so much.

    As Graham said it’s not a new business model. The thought of getting a few random games every month is quite appealing, everyone likes to take a gamble. The Humble peeps have also done no wrong in my eyes so they are one company I would trust with this.

    As for the charity thing, yeah 5% is a bit low, but their store is stuck at 10% and you can’t change that either. That makes me think these will all be relatively new games. I’m just assuming as most included in bundles have gone way past their peak selling points.

    The windows thing doesn’t bother me. They try most of the time to get all games linux, and have even helped push people to do it, but it can’t be like that all the time. At the end of the day, it’s more money for devs and charity, and more games for me! Definitely going to sign up for the first one to get grimrock and we’ll see where we go from there

    • Sarfrin says:

      I don’t like to gamble and the thought of paying for a few random games a month is not appealing to me, so you are objectively wrong.

  23. suibhne says:

    There’s absolutely no way I’d ever put down cash for this. Humble’s “curation” seems all over the map, judging by their bundles nowadays, and 3/4 of almost every bundle duplicates my (Steam/GOG.com/Origin/Uplay) library while the remaining 1/5 is actually interesting. It’s been a long time since I’ve done more than put down a few bucks for just one title in a bundle.

    If Humble could figure out how to de-dupe games that I already own somewhere, that would be real (potential) value. Otherwise, I’m betting about 80% of the “surprise” titles would be surprising mostly because I already own them.

    • Baines says:

      I agree. The one common factor of Humble’s “curation,” going by previous bundles is that the majority are titles I either don’t want or don’t need additional copies of.

      In response to the forum thread about the subscription deal, I looked at my Humble Bundle history and saw that I’d only ever twice spent at least $12 on a Humble Bundle as well. Odds are, the Humble Subscription would for me be the equivalent of simply throwing away $10-12 every month.

    • Saarlaender39 says:

      suibhne: “3/4 duplicates – the remaining 1/5 interesting”

      Erm,…ok – so 75% are duplicates, and 20% are interesting…out of curiosity: what are the last five percent?

      • alms says:

        Games he has no interest before, maybe because they’re local co-op multiplayer or point and click adventures.

        Any other question?

        • Saarlaender39 says:

          alms: “Any other question?”
          ===========================
          Yes, actually: what makes you believe, you could answer in his place?

          ;p

      • mokagino says:

        charity :)

    • epeternally says:

      I don’t think it’s really Humble’s curation abilities so much as that developers of good games have caught on to the fact that bundles don’t really help them, and arguably are destroying the market value of their products, and as such are less eager to get on board than they were a couple years ago. I could be wrong, but I suspect Humble knows that their bundles these days are bad. Groupees has also fallen into a massive lack of average game quality, and to a lesser extent Indie Gala as well.

  24. MajorManiac says:

    I can see EA being all over this.

  25. pepperfez says:

    I’d be able to forgive a lot if they would commit to their original no-DRM, cross-platform standard, but the value of random Steam keys is pretty close to zero.

    • alsoran says:

      This! It would be nice if Humble refrained from becoming a Steam outlet. I do like the charity angle and I also like some of the variety, not just games but book and comic bundles, just as long as they don’t include just the first episode. I never go back. I got a cracking deal on Groupees the other day for Tina Guo Albums, paid over the odds. Can you hear me Humble?

  26. Weremoo says:

    Wow, so much negativity in the comments! Why such a bunch of grumpy buggers, RPS? If you don’t want to try it, then move along and do something else!

    Personally, I quite like the idea of this. There have been lots of random games I’ve got in bundles that I wouldn’t have found/tried otherwise, and it’s led to some nice surprises! I’m willing to take a gamble at $12 and see if they land me any other interesting and novel games!

    • Sarfrin says:

      Why are you complaining about negativity? If you don’t like it move on and read something else.

      • Weremoo says:

        Wow… that is… Wow. Are you actually defending ridiculous bitching and moaning on the net? That seems like a rather odd stand to make to say the least!

        • alms says:

          He’s just saying that everybody has a right to an opinion and is free to express it here as long as it doesn’t cross the line.

          I’m really not sure where you’re seeing “ridiculous bitching and moaning” or why you think any of this extend to the Net at large.

          The post ends with a question, people are answering it. So far it seems the most vocal side is that which does not think this is a good idea.

          For real negativity please just visit Alec(?)’s post about Trove or John’s early impressions about Mad Max.

        • Beefenstein says:

          Random bitching and moaning is, to me, more inherently useful than those who oppose it with “I don’t know what your problem is, I quite like this”. The value of your argumentation, when set against that of those who you accuse of moaning, is generally some orders of magnitude less endearing.