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The Humble Bundle: another way to purchase quality Android games

by Phil Owen

Those who pay attention to the world of independently produced video games should be intimately familiar with the Humble Bundle concept. A group of developers contribute games to a bundle, which players can buy at whatever price they want. If they pay more than the average price, they get some extra games and goodies, like soundtracks. Meanwhile, when you set the buy price, you can also decide how much of the money goes to the developers, charity, or the people who run the Humble Bundle website. Just note that the games are available this way for a limited time, as indicated by the site’s countdown.

The most recent one is called Humble Bundle with Android 5. In this particular version of the Humble Bundle, you get DRM-free versions of the game for Mac, Windows and Linux, along with Android APKs. I've spoken before about the need for there to be both mobile and computer versions of most indie games, as well as bundles that included both editions, and here we are. While this bundle is no longer available, Humble Bundle is now doing weekly deals, and Bastion is this week's feautured title.

The games in the most recent bundle were Beat Hazard Ultra, Dynamite Jack, Solar 2, and NightSky, and if you pay above the average (just under $7 as of this writing) you also got Splice, Super Hexagon, Dungeon Defenders, Crayon Physics Deluxe and Sword & Sworcery.

That's a pretty great haul, and for some really excellent games. Dungeon Defenders is an old iOS hit finding its way to Android for the first time, and of course Terry Cavanagh's Super Hexagon is far from unknown to us. Sword & Sworcery, as well, saw a big user bump when it was offered for a quarter during the Google Play store’s holiday sale. But the rest are certainly less well known, and these bundles do a great job of exposing folks to the fact that there are even Android versions of them.


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Can’t put a price on discovery

Dynamite JackWhat's most astonishing about the bundle was that a couple of these games (Dynamite Jack and Crayon Physics Deluxe) made their Android debuts with this bundle, which on their own make the bundle worth buying even if you already have the games. One can never have too many Android games, as they say, and new Android versions of games we already like are always exciting.

But for Android gamers, this bundle, and others like it (there will be many more, I am sure) give you the chance to obtain some really great games for a low price. Humble Bundles tend to attract what are truly some of the best indie games out there. They are worth buying at regular full price, and more so worth buying together for whatever you want to pay.

But it's surprising that deals like this are not the norm. It seems like a no-brainer to me that the indie folks would want to provide the most value that they can in order to encourage sales, but bundling computer and mobile versions of games is still unusual. That said, there are enough of these cross-platform titles to have supported five of these Humble Bundles, and there are more that have not been included in the bundles.

Bridging the PC-mobile gap

In any case, it's encouraging to see these folks, primarily seen as PC developers, embracing the Android platform. As an open mobile platform, they are free to distribute their games for it however they choose, and the Humble Bundle with Android is a really smart way of doing it. Still, wrapping computer and mobile should be a regular thing rather than an exception. It should be the fault mode of operations. These people are not, after all, the major publishers, who exist to get every possible dime out of every consumer. These smaller developers realize that offering a great deal is an effective sales tactic, and we know that because they've bought into the Humble Bundle model. But they should also understand that while they don't have to do anything as absurd as the Humble Bundle on a regular basis, but offering an Android version along with the normal-priced PC version would make the package that much more appealing.

This Humble Bundle has earned about $1.3 million, which is not bad for a relatively short sale for these developers. I'd be curious to see the download data for the Android APKs, though, just to see how many of these folks really are interested in those versions. The developers themselves must have analyzed that data and seen something encouraging, because the bundles keep getting better.

You can watch a video promoting Humble Bundle with Android 5 below: