THQ Teams With Humble Bundle -- Who Comes Out On Top?
Another fortnight (or so), another Humble Bundle. This go 'round, however, bucks the set and expected trend. Instead of collaborating with indies to raise money for charities (the ubiquitous Child's Play and the Red Cross, in this case) and devs, Humble Bundle is showcasing AAA titles from the troubled THQ. For a donation of a buck or more, you can pick up Darksiders, Metro 2033, Red Faction: Armageddon, Company of Heroes (and it's Opposing Fronts and Tales of Valor expansions). For pledging the average amount (currently $5.67), you can also pick up Saint's Row the Third, and the soundtracks of all of the games. While any charitable effort is obviously laudable, somehow I'm still conflicted.
I'm not conflicted enough not to buy it, though. On one hand, the part of me that loves games just as much as I love charity and a decent deal fell right into their hands. Conversely, the conscious part of me can see right though this ploy, and I'm a little uneasy about the whole thing.
Its no new news that THQ has been going through the fire. They're millions and millions of dollars in the hole, they've lost their CFO (okay, that was kind of for the best), and even tattoo artists are going after what little of the pie is left. So, then, its obvious that THQ could benefit from a little good press while making some money for themselves. One of the biggest contributors to the Humble THQ Bundle campaign has been the CEO of THQ himself, Jason Rubin, who donated all of his offering to charity. Since, quite obviously, he doesn't need the games, he donated his Bundle to one lucky Twitt...uh...
Twitterer? Tweeter? Twitter follower. There we go.
Others have followed suit, buying a Bundle and giving it away, just to try to offer their cash to the "Save THQ" cause.
And, man, they are taking a hit on the prices, but the sheer amount that they have sold, and will continue to sell makes it worth it. On the marketplace, the total value of the offered games would be something like $190. I liken it to a digital liquidation -- sell as much of this limitless virtual inventory as possible, as quickly as possible.
And, hey -- that tactic has worked for them in the short time that the campaign has been live. At the time of publishing, the Humble Bundle had been available for two days, and raised upward of $3 million, and there are still ten days remaining. Additionally, shares of THQ stock has increased by 40 percent.
Yeah, so the price of one share is still in the $1 range.
Man, 40 percent is 40 percent, how ever you cut it. The price nearly doubled on the day the Humble Bundle was released. Now, there are other factors that contributed to its buoyancy but I don't believe in coincidence; I'm sure the Bundle publicity shares some of the credit.
So we've determined that this is a pretty good set up for THQ. There's no losing for them.
Humble Bundle, though? The same can't be said.
I can guarantee that Humble Bundle's traffic and proceeds have risen dramatically as a result of this partnership; you know, they turn a profit from these, too. However, any time that an entity that has focused on anything indie "goes mainstream," so to speak, they're going to lose part of their core. The folks who supported the grassroots efforts may feel alienated to an extent. Kind of like the "I liked it before it was cool" thing. I'm sure they considered this, though, and are acting in what they believe is the best interest for their future.
People are also throwing shade their way because, instead of showcasing the up-and-coming, grassroots fueled games (and music, and books), they're merely trying to repair a brand that has run itself into the ground. And they're veering so far from the DRM-free movement that was once their hallmark. Instead of supporting different OS's, you must have Windows. There is no free flow and openness with this one, folks.
I'm kind of bummed that Humble Bundle is becoming a willful pawn, but even for me, consumerism wins out in the end. As long as that's the case, indie endeavors are going to continue to do things like this to increase their bottom line, and there really may not be anything wrong with that. One of my favorite sayings is "get in where you fit in," and it is certainly applicable in this case.