This week in gaming has seemingly saved its biggest surprise for last. Humble Bundle, the charity-funding bundle organiser/publisher/online store, today announced that it has been bought by IGN. You know, that video game and movie site. Yup. Weird. Humble say they'll business will continue as usual, or even better than usual thanks to the resources and help of the Ian Games Network (who are owned by Ziff Davis, who are owned by J2 Global).
Humble Bundle launched in 2010 with the Humble Indie Bundle, a pay-what-you-want package containing Aquaria, Gish, Lugaru HD, Penumbra: Overture, Samorost 2, and World of Goo. "Phenomenal, basically," Alec said. That was spearheaded by Jeffrey Rosen and John Graham of Wolfire Games, the makers of Lugaru. Well, the bundles kept coming (we're way past a hundred now) and spread to cover music and eBooks and things too. Humble have became a proper company and landed venture capital investment, it has opened a permanent storefront, it launched a monthly subscription service, and most recently became a publisher as well. And we ourselves use Humble to sell RPS Supporter Program memberships.
All will continue as before under IGN, according to Humble. Rosen said in today's announcement:
"We will be working harder than ever to bring you the best gaming bundles, book bundles, and store sales, while nurturing the Humble Monthly and our new publishing initiative. We will keep our own office, culture, and amazing team with IGN helping us further our plans. We will raise even more money for charity.
"John and I started Humble Bundle from our childhood homes. When our parents found out that our 'big idea' was basically the honor system of pay-what-you-want plus charity, they braced themselves for the possibility that we might never move out. Seven years later, thanks to the generosity of over 10 million customers, we've now raised $106 million for charity. We are incredibly proud of this figure, of our team, and the Humble community which got us here.
"But as far as we've come, we know we are just getting started. Even bigger things lie ahead, and we think IGN is the perfect partner to help us get there."
They have a lot of faith in a publicly-traded multinational company.
So what do Humble get out of the deal? Money, stability, and exposure, I suppose. Though Humble seems omnipresent, it is still a non-Steam store in a Steam-focused world (even if it does often sell Steam keys) and that can be difficult. It's built upon selling games with big discounts too. And their growth has faltered; in 2015, Humble laid off 20% of their staff after over-expanding. If they are looking to really expand, a big and diversified company (along with publishers Ziff Davis, J2 own a number of online and telecommunications services) could give them a boost. Or Humble could be looking for someone to catch them after a fall. We do not know.
As a mega-huge site with massive reach, owning a storefront could be a smart move for the Ian Games Network. If the store hooked into enough parts of IGN's sites, channels, and other bits, it might be a tidy little earner - IGN boosting Humble's visibility, and Humble getting IGN a share of sales. I don't mean to suggest conspiracy or impropriety: I'm just saying there's potential for a highly synergised paradigm connecting search engine visibility and cross-brand reach with other fancy business words.
What strange news. I am blown away.
When RPS buy our own business, you can be sure I'll push for a small garden centre - a quiet, cool, moist, and rich-smelling space in which we'll all work one day a week to clear our heads then return refreshed.