Humble Bundle has been a reliable option for
gamers to get a nice little addition to their libraries with every bundle, and their Monthly
Bundle is very popular. You pay $12 and you get access to one blockbuster
hit and a handful of other games, plus Humble Trove–a bunch of games you get for free while
you’re subscribed, though you don’t get to keep them. The value of the bundles is more than customers
pay, so the website has grown in traffic and subscriptions a great deal since its inception
9 years ago. It also helps contribute to great causes. The default split of Humble Bundles gives
65% to devs, 20% to charity, and 15% goes back to the humble bundle company. You can alter those numbers for yourself but
the majority of sales fall under that distribution. That’s been the case for quite a while and
it’s the reason that so many people were willing to give 12 bucks for their humble
monthly when it was introduced. You get some good games and you get to support
a good cause. Last week, Humble announced a change to their
monthly pricing, though. Introducing Humble Choice! Now, for $20 a month instead of 12, you can
get access to 9 games a month instead of 10. Don’t worry, I didn’t understand it either,
and I’ll explain soon, but here’s the current breakdown of what customers can expect
from the various monthly plans that humble now offers. For 5 dollars a month, you get access to Humble
trove, and a 10% discount on the humble store. For 15$ a month you get the same thing but
you get 3 games from Choice, formerly the Monthly Bundle, and Trove. 20$ a month is the premium plan that gets
you all of this but 9 games instead of 3. It’s quite obvious that the classic plan
is the best deal since it’s $12 for 10 games, so let’s think about what humble is trying
to do by rebranding themselves as humble choice and changing the way their subscription packages
work. But first, let’s look at how they’ve arrived
at this point. Enjoy! Humble Bundle was the brainchild of Jeff Rosen. Jeff’s twin brother, David, was the founder
of the indie dev company Wolfire Games, which was started in 2003. Games that are credited to Wolfire include
Lugaru,Receiver, and Overgrowth. If you haven’t heard of any of those, you’re
not alone. The company doesn’t have an impressive resume
nor does it boast any particular game to hang its hat on, except perhaps the notoriety of
Overgrowth. During the mid 2000s, Wolfire served mostly
as a platform for David’s open source game competitions but after he finished school,
his twin brother Jeff joined him on the team. They began working together in 2008 and stayed
busy working on indie titles for the next two years. 2010 is the year it all changed, though. It was in that year that Jeff ran the first
ever humble bundle. They saw enough success that it was followed
by a second bundle. After that, Jeff and business partner John
Graham ditched the Wolfire label and Humble Bundle became an entirely separate entity. The early success of Humble Bundle was due
mainly to Jeff Rosen’s keen understanding of the game dev industry. He watched the success of bundle sales on
Steam and he was a firm believer that the more games they could bundle together, the
more likely people would be to talk about the games and the actual sale itself. I’ve seen this plenty of times before so
it makes sense. We have people in our discord who frequently
recommend bundles sales that are themed by publisher, genre, or franchise. The more games you can throw together, the
more excited people become and the more likely they are to go tell their friends about it. The true genius of Rosen is seen in the other
part of the humble equation, though. He noticed that a game called World of Goo
used a pay what you want approach to revitalize their game and to bring new people in. After seeing their success, he set to work
on using his connections in the indie game industry to bring together likeminded devs
who were looking for a better way to advertise and sell their products to a consumer base
who wasn’t as aware of independent games as they were of AAA advertisements on their
televisions and browsers. After he garnered support from developers
who were willing to include their games, he and John Graham went to work. The start of humble bundle required A LOT
of work. The two men had to setup payment methods through
sites like paypal and they would spend all-night sessions responding to customers to get the
bundles off the ground. What really led to their early success, though,
was the inclusion of charity in their pay what you want method. By December of 2010, they had orchestrated
and implemented the first two indie humble bundles, the second of which brought in nearly
two million dollars. Not wasting any time, Jeff and John were able
to secure a few million dollars of funding and by the middle of 2011, they were able
to hire a team to help manage their sales and clientele. They were growing at a rapid rate and it’s
here that we should stop to appreciate the go getter attitude and mental fortitude to
create such a profitable venture that also contributed to charity. Throughout their history, Rosen and Graham
have always been placed working with devs to find exciting games as a top priority. They launched humble monthlies in 2015, which
was a huge step towards getting people to commit to subscription rather than purchasing
bundles randomly, depending upon personal interest. If you browse the previous monthlies, you
will quickly notice that at least one game included in each bundle is something you’ve
heard of. The approach worked well and they quickly
reached nearly 100,000 subscribers to the monthly service. The monthlies always have at least one solid
pitch for each month that makes your purchase worthwhile. That’s at the heart of its appeal and its
something the duo worked hardest on from 2010-2017, when IGN bought them out. After the buyout, John Graham made it clear
that nothing would change about the platform or their business model. It was all about growing and gaining more
funding to make Humble Bundle bigger and better than ever. IN 2017 they introduced Humble trove, a library
of games that users have access to at any time. The trove grows and the humble store continues
to become more profitable and to cement itself alongside other marketplaces. All was well. Rosen and Graham were still in charge and
the fears that people had about the potential negative impact of IGN’s involvement didn’t
come to fruition. With more monthly subscribers than ever, Humble
had their best year yet in 2018 and, most importantly, customers were really happy with
everything the company was doing. Then, things began to change. Jeff Rosen and John Graham stepped down from
their roles as CEO and COO of the company. According to Graham, it was always a matter
of time before it happened, though he publicly remains optimistic about the future. “It’s been ten years, and after doing this
for a while I’m in a place where I think it’s time for me to take a break.” “The business is doing amazingly well; 2018
was our best year, and 2019 is off to our best start ever. We got to go onstage at the Epic keynote. We’ve got tons of momentum. “But we found somebody who’s better for taking
the business to new heights in the future than we are.” That someone is Alan Patmore, a video game
executive and the former Vice President of Product Development at Double Fine Productions,
a controversial studio that I covered in depth a few weeks ago. According to Jeff Rose, he and John aren’t
completely gone and they will continue to give guidance and advice in advisory roles
for the rest of this year. One thing that Rosen had to say about the
situation is particularly revealing is that he and John were always startup guys and that
Humble has outgrown their expertise. Humble is bigger now than it’s ever been,
with an established storefront and a foray into publishing, so it’s interesting to
hear Rosen say that he doesn’t want to stay on board because of their success. Or maybe he’s just ready to retire and he’s
trying to do a good job of easing Patmore into his new role. I’m not sold on any of it, though, because
humble just announced a huge change to their monthly plans that is almost certainly driven
by financial aspirations. Patmore and other executives have maintained
that the core of humble will always be focused on indie devs, on what’s good for gamers,
and on charity” but let’s take a deeper look at what’s changing for humble monthly
customers. They are rebranding it as humble choice and
the sales pitch is that it will give subscribers more power to choose what games they want
to pay for. That’s true and the idea of allowing people
to pick which games they want is fantastic. The problem arises when you look at how this
change impacts potential new customers and customers who have already been subscribed
for a while. If you’re currently subscribed to humble,
you will automatically be enrolled in their classic payment plan, which is the best plan
available, but only if you STAY subscribed. What they’re doing is forcing people who
are already subscribed to stay subscribed forever, and they’re pushing people to sign
up for humble monthly RIGHT NOW to make sure that you get grandfathered in to the classic
payment plan when they make the change. If you cancel your humble subscription, you’re
going to lose the best deal possible forever. You will never get it back and you’ll be
forced into the premium package where you pay more money for less games than you have
been for the past several years. What they’re telling us is that its okay
because nothing will change if you stay subscribed but that doesn’t excuse the fact that they’re
still charging more money for less value. A quick comparison of the premium and classic
packages reveals that this is NOT a good change. It’s only been about 6 months since Rosen
and Graham stepped down and this certainly doesn’t follow suit with the “nothing
will change” attitude that they had when they left. Make no mistake about it, this is a BIG change
that is coming very quickly under Patmore’s direction. It’s only been a few months and humble is
already trying to squeeze more dollars out of consumers, especially new customers and
those who liked to choose based on the early release games. If your subscription lapses, you’re screwed
and you’ll be paying 8 dollars more per month to choose 9 games instead of 10. They’re hiding this behind the idea of choice,
but current subscribers aren’t as ignorant as Humble would prefer. The psychological marketing trick here is
called Decoy Marketing, straight out of Dr. Dan Ariely’s (air-EE-elly) book “Predictably
Irrational.” The idea is that if I offer you a small soda
for $1, a large soda for $5, you’ll probably choose the small everytime, but if I add a
medium for $4, you’ll start spending more because you’re getting a ‘better deal.’ The decoy has convinced you that the value
of the more expensive option is better. You might have seen this optical illusion
before–two circles surrounded by other circles. Some large, some small. You might know already that they’re same
size, and they just look different based on the circles around them. This is the same psychological effect used
by Humble’s pricing. By creating an obviously bad version–the
Humble Basic at $14.99 a month and only 3 games–they’ve made the option that costs
$20 a month look better, more affordable, less outrageous. Make no mistake, this is a price hike of 66%
for absolutely no additional value at all–and yet by placing it next to a much worse option
it looks almost reasonable. At face value, it appears that Classic will
ease this transition to Humble Choice. In reality, these aren’t good changes. It makes the service more complicated and
puts a stranglehold on current subscribers who could easily be thrown into the $20 a
month plan if they don’t continue to pay their monthly dues. At the time of this recording, the YouTube
video announcing these changes has a like to dislike ratio of 148 to 895. That means that only about 15% of people are
happy with the move to Humble Choice. The comments section also provides evidence
of customer dissatisfaction. What a NEW and fantastic way to kill your
business. This sounds horrible. I hate this already. It’s exactly what I voted against in the customer
surveys. wow it’s almost like the latest Monthly was
the best yet on purpose just to get everyone on board with this plan ! making your customers
feel like hostages is such a great idea! Goodbye humble bundle, it’s been a good run. Those are the top 5 most upvoted comments
on the video and there are plenty more that voice similar concerns. What we’re left with is a telling example
of where Humble is be headed since the acquisition by IGN. This is a money move, there’s no other way
to say it. What’s most concerning is that it’s happening
shortly after the two founders of the company stepped down. Is this indicative of the direction that the
company is headed under new leadership? Was this part of the reason for the transition? Is it IGN saying to Humble: “Increase your
profitability?” Probably. Will they continue to rely on their business
model of splitting sales with charity? Probably. Will they continue to let you pay what you
want? Ehhhh maybe. What we can be certain of is that leadership
is raising prices and not offering benefits to new customers, they are obfuscating the
issue by hiding it with decoy prices, and they have ironically removed customer choice
by creating the Choice program. This is the bottom line: don’t forget to
pay your monthly $12 subscription to humble or you’re going to be forced into paying
an extra 8 dollars a month, for a worse product. It’s a price hike hidden behind fake program
benefits. Maybe it’s just a one-time change that people
will get used to. I doubt it, but that’s obviously what Humble
hopes. If Patmore and company are willing to unfairly
charge you more money right now, they will almost certainly try to find new ways to do
that in the future too. I’ll make a few predictions right now. The first Humble Choice will be one of the
highest value Humble Monthly’s ever. It will be a real choice on which 10th game
to leave behind for those people on Choice, and Basic will seem like an even bigger mistake
for anyone who chooses it. But, then over the next couple of months,
that 10th game will slowly become a throwaway. A game you don’t care about, or wouldn’t
have chosen anyways. In a year, maybe 18 months, they’ll remove
the 10th game option stating that it didn’t seem fair because some indie developers were
being left out during bundles and it doesn’t “reflect the core values.” The Classic program will just become the Choice
Premium, grandfathered in on an older price scale. And mark my words–Humble will hope that you
forget to resubscribe. They will gleefully clap their hands like
cartoon villains when someone has to drop out of the older program. It’s not likely they’ll ever remove it
entirely–not unless they want a revolt–but this is almost a textbook case on how to slowly
move customers into a mandatory price hike. Humble has removed all customer Choice with
Humble Choice. Well, I hope you enjoyed this look at Humble
Bundle’s history and how the shift to Humble Choice could spell disaster for everyone involved. If you enjoyed this video be sure to share
it on reddit and social media. Don’t forget to like, comment, subscribe,
and… as always… I’ll see you guys on the next one.

Author Since: Mar 11, 2019

  1. Humble Choice, or Humble Bundle Monthly, is just one of the many products that Humble offers. While we don't think this particular one is good for consumers, many of their regular bundles and store items are excellent deals that also help support charity. If you want to support CryMor and Charity (we choose Child's Play, just like at Ogreboard) you can always use or ?partner=crymor to do so on any products (including Choice/Monthly).

    Don't forget to join the Discord:

  2. This is an interesting history. I done a few humble bundles but it felt similar to ps plus for me. A lot of games I never played and would have never bought but got them because I thought they was worth it. I didn't spend much in total so it wasn't a big loss.

  3. I really hope they get a severe sales drop just to punish anti consumer practices like that
    I almost considered this Humble Monthly too but hearing this almost makes me want to not even buy the regular bundles!

    I'm definitely mad especially because I know they won't go back unless someone drastic happens.
    Just saying Fanatical exists too btw

  4. I remember when Humble Bundle was good, before IGN bought it and used it to try and sell me coding manuals, fonts and Chuck Tingle gay porn ebooks.

  5. The thing is, even having a regular price hike could be ethical, you know, things might be costing more or whatever. But this is completely destructive

  6. So you say that we should join humble monthly classic now for the next upcoming month to grab the super duper deal and then end our subscription for good? I left the humble bundle some months ago because I simply don't have the time left to play all those games in my steam library 🙁

  7. A buyout ALWAYS ends the same way. They assure you nothing will change. Its fine for a while. Then the people who made it successful leave and slowly but steady it loses its identity until it becomes just another greedy corporate machine for making money and fucking you over.

  8. Two things come to mind here:

    When you're describing the decoy concept of adding something absurdly overpriced to make an also overpriced but LESS overpriced object seem more desirable, you're describing the MO of movie theater concession stands. $1 tiny drink, $5 medium drink, $7.25 large drink. People are gonna get the medium drink because it's "the best value" even though it's barely 50% more volume than the small drink (and most of which will be ice), while the large drink comes in a gallon bucket with free refills.

    The concept of holding customers hostage over a grandfathered in plan is exactly what AT&T, Verizon, etc did and maybe still do with the old, old unlimited data plans. Once they started introducing 3G and then LTE and customers started using more and more data with more and more advanced devices and services, those people with grandfathered in old-school unlimited data plans were costing them money compared to the rubes shelling out for 2GB data capped plans (and we can always sell you more data, of course!) at the same price range. So they would do damn near anything to try and bait these people into changing their plans, they'd add all kinds of exclusions or "sorry but you need to be on a modern plan for that" crap, etc. Shady bullshit.

    I guess Humble Bundle learned from them.

  9. "We're not going to change how things are"

    Sells company to other company

    "Well, we did say we aren't going to change it, lol"

    leaves company

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