PriceObviously Humble Bundle isn't going to be realistic for a title which costs $50 per unit at normal rate. Imagine selling your $50 game and making less than 30 cents per sale. There's no way around it, it's just a bad decision. That being said, there are a bunch of older games a developer might have in their collection which could be revitalized through a Humble Bundle. I also always urge developers to consider their game as a means to build legacy around their studio. If you have older games which aren't selling anymore (even if you charge $30 each) you're not losing potential sales because you can't lose what do you don't have! After a certain period of time - maybe 6 months, maybe 2 years - consider distributing your title. If your decisions are purely driven by profit, I'll give you an outline of what you can expect. Say you sell 500 units per month at $20 through a service which only takes 5% for distribution. This leaves $9,500 of profit. Humble Bundle gives you an opportunity to be apart of their bundle. We'll use Humble Bundle Indie #11 which sold 494,153 units. Let's say your game earns 25 cents per sale earning you $123,538.25. There. Just do it.
AgeOne of the worst decisions you can make in regards to bundling is selling a game you've just released. I can't recommend enough you wait for market maturity. For some of the smaller titles I've worked on, it was reasonable to actually participate in a bundle less than 4 months after launching the title. See below.
Cross TitleWhen Electronic Arts distributed a bunch of their titles through Humble Bundle my jaw dropped as I desperately grasped for my wallet. The games available were so fantastic and all for dirt cheap. Later on the same day I purchased the Bundle, I called a friend of mine who used to be an Executive at EA to find out what would drive the tactic. He intelligently said "The bundle is built around Battlefield 3 (it required you to pay a slightly higher amount to get it). With Battlefield 4 coming out next week, the marketing team likely wants to get attention on the franchise. They can push out the older version, get a huge number of people interested in the gameplay style, then upsell them the new version in the coming week." Most times that I write about Electronic Arts, I usually receive disapproving responses. We can't deny that this is a brilliant ninja marketing move though. They took their old franchise title (BF3), distributed a potential 2.1 million units (not everyone might have paid the threshold to unlock it), got people interested, excited and aware of their upcoming Battlefield installment and made a profit doing all this - genius.
Social SharingI am a huge fan of the holistic approach. I really encourage you to read my article on the k-factor to understand the way in which marketers can actually facilitate and foster a social sharing viral reaction from their customers. So consider this; when you flood the market and push your game to a huge volume of people, even if your current k-factor is cut in half, your going to have "earned" sales through customers who enjoyed the game purchased in the bundle and recommended it to their friends. For the most part, sales beget sales. This can be seen through simple means such as games that are selling in larger volumes on Steam get first page exposure in the "Top Sellers" section thus driving more awareness and sales. On a deeper level, mass distribution through bundles drives awareness by more YouTubers (I'm a huge advocate of YouTubers) and reviewers checking out topical products (games more people are going to know about) thus fueling your game and its content as "trending", leading to more exposure. If you look at the decision to distribute your game through a bundle as an isolated event purely analyzed by direct earning potential, you're going to be scared away. When you understand the "marketing mix" this decision creates and supplements, you likely can't find a better way to gain attention for your game. Too many people write on the theoretically of important topics, and I refuse to conform - so here's some practical market data.
- Bulk Distributors (Humble Bundle) contributed to 11% of the total revenue
- Bulk Distributors earned 63% of total sales volumes
SummaryIn short, Humble Bundle distribution for your game is a fantastic move when done carefully. Consider;
- The age of your title; is it too early to discount so early in its life?
- The price; how much are you discounting and will you earn more through the decision?
- Your marketing mix; how will this decision synergize with your other efforts?