Electronic Arts

$10.5 million for charity: The Humble Origin Bundle made me despise some of the most vocal gamers

$10.5 million for charity: The Humble Origin Bundle made me despise some of the most vocal gamers

I want to share a portion of an e-mail that I received during the course of the Humble Origin Bundle. I’ll explain my motivation in a moment.

“After paying $5 on the humble bundle for dead space 3, I've discovered that EA have discontinued the facility for using in game 'ration seals' to purchase resource packs. In fact, you can't purchase resource packs at all,” a reader said in a message that came into our tip line. “I bought the humble bundle for Dead Space 3. This feels like a scam.”

Another message asked if I was going to write about how terrible it was that the Origin servers were down for a bit during the beginning of the promotion, and how the entire promotion existed only as a way to get people to like them, and how I had fallen for it by writing good things about the bundle. “You fell for it,” they told me.

Why this is frustrating

Sometimes I just want to find a nice, hard wall and hit my head against it until my forehead is little more than a bloody smear.

The Humble Origin Bundle ultimately raised over $10.5 million for charity. 2.1 million bundles were sold. The games, if bought separately, would have cost around $240, depending on sales and the like. The selection of games included some great titles, some I’m less enthusiastic about, and EA even included Steam keys for the games if they were available on Steam.

Let me repeat that: In the Humble Origin Bundle, they included keys for a competitor's product to improve your experience. We wrote about this, and I’m still happy it’s something that the Humble folks were able to make happen.

EA didn’t make any money from this bundle, as they gave up their cut of the money to give to the charities instead, making each dollar go even further. And people complained that this was a stunt to get people to like EA. A ton of people were happy with the deal, but the amount of vitriol I saw on comments, in forums, and was personally sent makes me a little ill.

Of course EA wants you to like them, and I don’t think doing great things to make that happen is a trick. That’s what you want a company to do: Amazing, giving things that lead to a great experience and help the world be a better place. This was an incredible gesture that did a large amount of concrete good, it got great games in the hands of many people, and it helped charity. The number of people who bought the bundle is immense.

There's never been a greater disconnect between the actual world of gamers (the world where people think this sort of bundle is a good thing and are willing to support it) and the world where gamers post negative shit in the comments, or assume everyone is out to get them, or who think that every person who works for the big publishers twirls their villain mustache when planning deals like this.

Pay attention to the first group, it’s okay to tell the second group to grow up every now and again.

I was once skeptical of Humble's experiments with different kinds of bundles, but I was wrong, wrong, wrong. The more they experiment, and try new things, and increase their reach, the better things will be, and the more money they’ll raise for good causes (Disclosure warning: One of which is often Child’s Play). There is now a comedy bundle, and I plan on picking that up. I would love to see an Activision bundle. I think every company you don’t like would do well to release a bunch of games for a low price in order to get some positive publicity.

And if they’re doing so in some terrible strategy to be seen as a company that does good things, so what? The money spends just as well once it reaches the organizations who need it. The Humble Bundle needs to stick around and do more of this, and the rest of us need to think long and hard before we react cynically to these situations in the future.

And the guy who got all of those games and felt scammed because he didn’t like one aspect of the economy in one of the many games he got for five mother-flipping dollars? Hit me back, I’ll send you $5, and then $5 extra dollars to the charity of your choice. That should make you happy, right?

Open offer, nothing scammy about it.