Name your own price for computer games


by OWEN LEI / KING 5 News

Posted on December 20, 2010 at 10:02 AM

Updated Monday, Dec 20 at 12:52 PM

SEATTLE -- They are five award-winning games made by people known to do their best work in garages and coffee shops.

And you can download all five for as little as a penny.

But the guys behind Humble Indie Bundle #2 are counting on you to pay just a little more to help keep independent game developers -- small teams who have no affiliation with major gaming companies -- afloat.

"The biggest team in the current bundle is probably two or three people," said John Graham, co-founder of the group bringing these independent developers together for a unique name-your-price pay model.

As of Sunday night, with just a little more than a day left in the promotion, total revenue for Humble Indie Bundle #2 exceeded $1.1 million, with more than 152,000 bundles purchased, according to a running tally on the website.

Perhaps proof not everyone is a penny pincher, the average purchase price?  $7.47.  The highest purchase price? $3,141.59.

The games in the bundle are "Braid," "Cortex Command," "Machinarium," "Osmos" and "Revenge of the Titans."  They span a variety of genres, from puzzle games to side-scrolling adventures

The band Radiohead and some other game developers have tried this pay method before, but Graham said Humble Bundle offers another level to its plan:  You can also decide how much of what you pay goes to charity.

"It feels great all around because the indie developers themselves kind of feel like a charity," Graham said. "It's just these Bohemian guys trying to make it on their own."

One of those charities is Seattle-based Child's Play, a group that holds an annual toy drive for childrens’ hospitals around the world, including Seattle Children's Hospital.

"Gamers are creative, generous, and they'll respond if you ask them to give something of value, as long as they think it's of value," said Mike Fehlauer, sales director of Penny Arcade, the parent group of Child's Play.

Child's Play was also a beneficiary during the first Humble Bundle, and received a check for about $199,000 after the promotion ended, said Child's Play spokesperson Kristin Lindsay.

"Obviously that's a very significant number, and if you can imagine how many video games and consoles that amount of money can buy, it's really substantial to our program," Lindsay said in an e-mail. "One of the best aspects of providing games, toys and movies to children's hospitals is that
those items will serve numerous patients each -- sometimes numbering in the thousands, depending on the size of the hospital."

Also receiving donations from Humble Bundle is Electronic Frontier Foundation, a non-profit that fights for digital rights, usually in court cases, on behalf of consumers.