Humble Bundle and Games Marketing

One of the most amazing and beautiful things about business change is that there’s no “right way” to do it. There are plenty of wrong ways, like, say, underpaying your employees or cutting back on customer service, but your options for positive change are limited only by your ability to think creatively.

A couple of days ago, I came across a business change that seemed . . . and may well be . . . a genuine revolution. So I “invested” in The Humble Bundle, a collection of five video games that, I have to admit, fit the description “high quality”. I paid exactly $6.07 for licenses to play the five Humble Bundle games on my SmartPhone, tablet, and computers. It’s an amazing bargain, made all the more amazing by the fact that when you spend next-to-nothing on a Humble Bundle you get to decide what portion of the price you pay goes to the software developers, Humble Bundle itself—the distributor—or to charity.

And although I’ll stop short of saying I want my six bucks back, I’m a little bit ticked off at just how little interest I have in these five games. I’m not upset with the Humble Bundle people, and I’m not exactly angry at myself. Plus, this was corporate money, so it’s a tax write off; I purchased the Humble Bundle in the name of research for this article, suspecting that The Humble Bundle was something special, and different—something worthy of a business change discussion. And it is.

But I don’t like these five games, no matter how well put together they are. I didn’t get to try them before I bought them, nor did I get to select what went into my Humble Bundle. In spending that whopping six dollars I fell prey to some of the slickest marketing I’ve ever seen.

This is a story about smart marketing. It’s not about video games, and it isn’t about pricing, other than Humble Bundle’s ode to the pay-what-you-think-it’s-worth model.

Here’s the story: in a world where people blanch at the idea of paying a dollar—ONE DOLLAR—for a game, Humble Bundle has figured out how to get almost 65,000 people to cough up six dollars each in a couple of days and collect their e-mail addresses for future marketing purposes. And make you feel good about yourself, and make it easy to pay for your Humble Bundle:

It's Easy and Feels Good To Buy a Humble Bundle

Now of course, Humble Bundle doesn’t have a real business if it raises only several hundred thousand dollars, several times a year, and has to pay out the lion’s share of that revenue to others. But Rovio figured out how to make the math work for Angry Birds, and despite Disney not understanding what matters in the video game market, video games are a genuinely fertile market for business change. I mean, for goodness sake, video games drive college courses in Home Economics .

Hats off to you, Humble Bundle. And hey: if you want to give us a chance to earn back our $6 through long-tail marketing, just reach me here.

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