The Humble Entitlement Bundle

In a move that was called a betrayal by many and lauded as marketing genius by others, last week Humble Bundle put up a new package by struggling publisher THQ. They put up a bunch of their relatively recent, largely high quality AAA PC titles under the traditional pay-what-you-want model of the Humble Bundle. This is an unprecedented move for a AAA publisher but given THQ’s massive problems, desperate times call for desperate measures. Given that most of these are older titles that aren’t selling well any more, a move like this gives them a small cash infusion and also drums up awareness of several franchises that have imminent sequels in development. Sales of these sequels are vital if THQ’s to have any chance of surviving more than a few months and a Humble Bundle where they get to raise some money while also supporting great charities seems like a fantastic idea to me. I already own every game in the bundle except Red Faction: Armageddon but already bought one to get that plus the soundtracks and another to gift to a friend. I will probably buy more.

Of course, this has not been without its huge share of controversy. A number of previous Humble Bundle community supporters as well as reporters Kyle Orland, high horse enthusiast Ben Kuchera and others have slammed this package saying it cheapens the Humble Bundle brand, is a betrayal of their values and many other stabs of hyperbole. Their complaints really boil down to the fact that this package doesn’t share many traits that previous Humble Bundles have. Among them are:

-These aren’t indie games, they’re all AAA releases from the same publisher.
-The money’s going to a heartless, evil publisher and not the developers.
-The games are not DRM free, they use Steam which is a mild form of DRM.
-They only run on Windows and not also on Mac and Linux as other Humble Bundle titles traditionally have.
-This is a cynical attempt from a dying company to milk a few extra dollars for their executives before they go under.

These are all perfectly valid reasons to not so much as pay a single cent to get the bundle as you indeed can but “betraying their principals?” Give me a damn break. A bunch of incredible games (a couple of which are barely a year old) are released for literally next to nothing and supporting charity at the same time but bunch of entitled prats still whine.
Let’s get this straight guys: Humble Bundle owes you nothing. They offer products that are sold with a certain pricing model. You pay a price, you get the products promised, that’s all. They has never made it part of their mission statement that all the games will be indies, DRM free or that they will run on platforms that are little more then AAA wastelands. There has been no ideological betrayal here, no principals mangled in the name of profits. It’s all in your arrogant little heads.

THQ is on the financial ropes. Did you honestly think they were going to endure the considerable work and cost to port older, high-end games to platforms that virtually no one plays high-end games on? Don’t you think they would have already done that if there was a market there? And so what if the developers aren’t directly getting the proceeds? Last I checked, THQ surviving means the studios who developed the games (all of which are still around) get to continue to exist and employ their teams as opposed to getting shut down or sold off for pennies on the dollar. If THQ does under before Metro Last Light comes out, what do you think is going to happen to 4A Games? Nothing good I can assure you. Yes, this is a desperation move and one they wouldn’t be doing if they weren’t in dire straights. However, as someone who loves AAA games and is frankly terrified at the pace of consolidation and shrinkage in that side of the industry, I say that if this allows THQ to survive and continue making games, it’s damn well worth it.

The values supposedly being betrayed aren’t Humble Bundle’s but ones the ones whining have superimposed on them. This kind of entitled whining toward an organisation all but giving away some of the best games in recent years is a shining example of the horribly named “first world problems” meme. It’s why the indie community has a reputation for being a bunch of whiny, self-righteous, pretentious douchebags. This is a reputation I think is largely unfounded but it becomes much harder to argue that point when I see things like this happen. Those who are saying they will boycott Humble Bundle in the future because of this “betrayal” are only hurting the future indie developers and charities the organisation supports, all in the name of making a pointless statement based on their own vicarious ego stroking. They and the reporters supporting them need to come down from their ivory towers. Humble Bundle helps charity, they aren’t one themselves and you never had a say in their ideals. If you think you can do this better than them, I implore you to go and start up your own organisation based on the nobler goals you seem to think you espouse.

As I write this, the bundle is currently sitting at $3.4 million raised from 606,473 contributors and there’s still almost 9 days to go. I believe this is already a record for Humble Bundle and if not, it surely will be by the time the campaign ends. The silent majority still seems to prefer to buy rather than bitch and I’m happy to see that. I was already hoping THQ would survive but if it does, I can now take extra satisfaction knowing it’s done so in spite of the entitled idiots who would rather see less good games made simply because an organisation betrayed principals they only wish it had. Get over yourselves people.

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