Begun in 2010 by Wolfire Games and later operated by Humble Bundle Inc., Humble Bundles are package deals offering video games on a pay-what-you-want price model, with additional games being offered for paying more than a certain amount. Proceeds from each bundle are then split between the games' developers, Humble Bundle themselves, and charities determined per-bundle.
Initial bundles were entirely focused around independent games, and were offered as DRM-free direct downloads. However, bundles have since expanded in scope, even offering books, music, and comics, and typically offer games via redeemable Steam key (or other applicable storefront redemption system), rather than direct download. As well, Humble has since expanded to include a standard digital storefront, as well as a monthly-subscription bundle known as "Humble Choice", offering subscribers a selection of games for a monthly fee, with a portion of sales for both also being given to charity. Additionally, Humble Bundle Inc. has published a number of titles via Humble Games.
In October 2017, Humble Bundle Inc. was acquired by Ziff Davis, LLC, via video game news and criticism website IGN. While this did not place Humble Bundle directly under the operation of IGN, the acquisition caused some controversy, being seen by some as having the potential to create a conflict of interest.
Initially, Humble Bundle offered buyers the ability to choose how their payments were divided between a bundle's involved parties, even going as far as to allow users to have all of their money go to a bundle's charity, or to a single involved developer. In 2021, Humble Bundle Inc. announced changes would be made to the system to limit charity donations to 15% of a purchase, however following backlash this was changed to require 15-30% of a purchase go to Humble Bundle Inc., depending on the bundle, with no other limits on distribution.
The concept of the Humble Bundle was inspired by the regular indie game sales featured on the digital distributor Steam, as well as a successful 2009 "pay-what-you-want" anniversary sale of World of Goo. While it isn't the only game bundle digital store, Humble Bundle is regarded as the first, the most publicized and, arguably, the most successful; since its creation the bundles have raised over $150 million for charity alone.
Donators to the Humble Bundle receive a group of games selected by the Humble Bundle team. Developers will also commonly offer their games as candidates. It is not unusual for some games to appear in multiple bundles. Games featured in bundles can range from those already critically and financially successful, to more obscure or recent games.
Starting with Humble Indie Bundle #3, bonuses can be unlocked by beating the average purchase price of all previous supporters. This has been used to give purchasers a chance to get previous bundles, additional games, soundtracks, and other content. Some bundles will receive additional games after their initial sales launch, although these typically require beating the aforementioned average. As well, during Humble Indie Bundle 4, abuse of the pay-what-you-want model in attempts to gain an upper hand in Steam's 2011 Winter Sale led Humble Bundle to implement a permanent $1 minimum donation price.
Each bundle defaults to splitting the payment evenly among Humble Bundle, the developers, and partnered charities (often The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) and Child's Play.) With standard bundles, the purchaser can typically also adjust sliders to give more or less of the payment to any party among the three groups. Some themed bundles will specifically partner with charities relevant to the bundle's core concept.
Purchased game keys are sent to the user via email, as well as stored in the user's Humble Bundle account, should they have one. Where DRM-free versions of games are offered, the games' downloads are made available through Humble Bundle's website. Humble Bundle also allows DRM-free purchases to be downloaded using a torrent client. During Humble Indie Bundle 2, David Rosen of Wolfire Games stated their intent to maintain torrent support for DRM-free games. This option is even suggested by the website for some larger titles, such as Psychonauts.
The main series of bundles, the Humble Indie Bundle, is numbered, with twenty-one of these having been released so far.
In total, Humble Bundle has hosted over 1,000 bundles across video games, audio, books, and more.
A number of bundles have been tied to specific developers and publishers, with the first among these being the Humble Frozenbyte Bundle. Other bundles of this nature have starred developers such as Double Fine, Klei, Team17, and PopCap, and publishers such as THQ, Devolver Digital, Square Enix, and Electronic Arts (via the Humble Origin Bundle.)
Developers have also used Humble Bundle for special events. Mojang has hosted several "Mojam" game jams through the bundle, allowing donators to receive prototypes for new games, and view the development process on a live-stream over a three day period. Double Fine Productions also regularly hosts the Amnesia Fortnight game jam through the service, asking Humble Bundle donators to vote for which pitched games would go on to become prototypes for new games, unlocking said prototypes and assets for donating.
In 2013, Humble Bundle began offering the Humble Weekly Sale, week-long deals offering smaller bundles or individual games. These bundles also offered soundtracks, additional games, and other merchandise to those who beat the average or paid above a specific amount. The name-your-price model remained and donators were still allowed to divide their payment between the developers, charities, and Humble Bundle. However, Weekly Sales were ended in March 2016.
- Highest Gross Amount: $10.5M (Humble Origin Bundle)
- Highest Number of Bundles Sold: 2.1M (Humble Origin Bundle)
- All-time Highest Donation: $16,005.27 (For Humble Indie Bundle 4, donated by the group Humble Brony Bundle)
- The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) [Current]
- Child's Play [Current]
- Doctors Without Borders
- American Red Cross
- Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America (SFWA)
- World Land Trust
- Block By Block
- Human Rights Campaign
- San Francisco AIDS Foundation
- American Civil Liberties Union Foundation
- International Rescue Committee
Humble Indie Bundle
On sale from May 4 through May 11, 2010, it included:
- Total Payments: $1.27M
- # Bundles Sold: 138,813
- Highest Donation: $3,333.33 (Anonymous donator)
Humble Indie Bundle #2
On sale starting December 14, 2010, it included:
Midway through the sale, all supporters gained access to all games from the previous Humble Indie Bundle.
- Total Payments: $1.83M
- # Bundles Sold: 232,855
- Highest Donation: $6,132.96 (Nexus Scorpion - Humble Bundle donator)
Humble Frozenbyte Bundle
On sale from April 12 through April 26, 2011, it included:
Splot is still in development and no download is provided, but a preview is available until the game is officially released.
Jack Claw, a prototype game that was being developed by Frozenbyte, Inc before being cancelled prior to completion, is also included in the bundle.
- Total Payments: $910K
- # Bundles Sold: 183,219
- Highest Donation: $2,222.22 (Anonymous donator)
Humble Indie Bundle #3
On sale starting July 26, 2011, it included:
- Total Payments: $2.17M
- # Bundles Sold: 372,399
- Highest Donation: $4,096 (MtGox - Bitcoin exchange service)
Humble Frozen Synapse Bundle
On sale starting September 28, 2011, it included:
- Total Payments: $1.12.M
- # Bundles Sold: 231,810
- Highest Donation: $4,200 (CrashPlan - Online data backup service)
Humble Voxatron Debut
On sale starting October 31, 2011, it included:
Humble Introversion Bundle
On sale starting November 22, 2011, and included:
- Total Payments: $779k
- # Bundles Sold: 190,261
- Highest Donation: $1,250 (Humble Brony Bundle - A charity group made up 'bronies': fans of My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic)
Humble Indie Bundle #4
On sale starting December 13, 2011, and included:
This bundle replaced EFF with the American Red Cross as one of two charities supported by the bundle and was the first to include soundtracks from the bundled games. Also, abuses by donators led to the Humble Bundle requiring a minimum donation of $1.00 before granting Steam keys for Bundle games: during the period, abusers were paying the bare minimum to unlock Steam keys for multiple accounts in order to better their chances at winning a raffle being held by Valve; the system is still in place.
Additionally, Minecraft creator and Mojang founder Markus "Notch" Persson engaged in a friendly wager with The Humble Brony Bundle, a charity group made up of fans of the cartoon, My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic, to see who could donate the most. However, Notch was defeated by the Brony Bundle, who donated a current record amount of $16k; per the wager, Notch was required to watch an episode of the cartoon.
- Total Payments: $2.37M
- # Bundles Sold: 435,251
- Highest Donation: $16,005.27 (Humble Brony Bundle)
Humble Bundle for Android
On sale starting January 31, 2012, and included:
As suggested by this bundle’s name, these games can be installed on Android. They also work for Mac, Linux, and Windows.
- Total Payments: $930k
- # Bundles Sold: 150,595
- Highest Donation: $1,700 (Humble Brony Bundle)
Humble Bundle Mojam
On sale starting February 17, 2012. This bundle was different in that all the proceeds went charity and the games didn’t even exist yet. Mojang makes the game based on two themes and two genres chosen by polls, live streamed over 60 hours. There are four charities involved this time, with the American Red Cross and charity: water added to the usual EFF and Child's Play.
Three games were produced:
- Total Payments: $458k
- # Bundles Sold: 81,583
- Highest Donation: $2,222.22 (Humble Brony Bundle)
Humble Bundle for Android #2
On sale starting March 19, 2012, and included:
- Total Payments: $682k
- # Bundles Sold: 106,597
- Highest Donation: $314.12 (Humble Brony Bundle)
Humble Botanicula Debut
On sale starting April 19, 2012. This time the only charity was World Land Trust, which goes along with the theme of Botanicula. The bundle included:
The independent film, Kooky, which had some involvement from developer Botanicula developer Amanita Design is also included for those who beat the average; with the exception of Windosill, all the bundled games are products of the said developer. Steam keys were available for anyone paying more than $5, a considerable rise from the previous minimum of $1.
- Total Payments: $823k
- # Bundles Sold: 92,556
- Highest Donation: $1,000 (Humble Brony Bundle)
Humble Indie Bundle V
On sale starting May 31, 2012, and included:
Added later on June 7, 2012, granted to those who bought the bundle earlier or paid more than the average donation:
The full soundtrack for each of the initial games was also included in both FLAC and MP3 formats. Games added later do not come with a soundtrack.
The fifth bundle is currently the most successful bundle to date, raising over $5.1 million dollars. Most of the donated money was a result of a humorous donation war between, once again, Markus Person and The Humble Brony Bundle. Psychonauts, the critically-acclaimed platformer that suffered from poor sales at its release, reportedly "sold more copies" through the bundle than it did during its initial retail run.
- Total Payments: $5.1M
- # Bundles Sold: 599,004
- Highest Donation: $13,167.84 (Humble Brony Bundle)
Humble Bundle for Android #3
On sale starting August 15, 2012. It included:
All games are available on Android, Windows, Mac, and Linux. Midway through the sale, the first Humble Bundle for Android was added for all previous supporters and new supporters who beat the average.
- Total Payments: $829k
- # Bundles Sold: 122,335
- Highest Donation: $420.00 (Zephyrean - Humble Bundle donator)
Humble Indie Bundle #6
On sale starting September 18, 2012. It included:
Added later on September 25, 2012, granted to those who bought the bundle earlier or paid more than the average donation:
The full soundtrack for each of the initial games, excluding Vessel, are also included in both FLAC and MP3 formats.
- Total Payments: $2.05M
- # Bundles Sold: 316,282
- Highest Donation: $1,250 (Markus "Notch" Persson)
Humble Bundle for Android #4
On sale starting November 8, 2012. It included:
Added later on November 15, 2012, granted to those who bought the bundle earlier or paid more than the average donation:
All games included the soundtrack in both FLAC & mp3 formats.
- Total Payments: $1.1M
- # Bundles Sold: 167,148
- Highest Donation: $1,000 (WrapBootstrap - Twitter theme/design store)
The Double Fine Amnesia Fortnight
Starting on November 19, 2012, the sale asked donators to vote for which game out of 23 pitches would become prototypes for new Double Fine games, created during their yearly Amnesia Fortnight.
After voting, the sale included the selected prototypes of:
In addition to the voted prototypes, the sale included:
Donators also received the soundtracks for all the selected prototypes.
The event and sale marked the first time in the company's history where their yearly Amnesia Fortnight, before a secret development and selection process, was opened to the public. The development of the prototypes were documented by 2 Player Productions and made available for donators.
- Total Payments: $2.5k
- # Bundles Sold: 35,269
- Highest Donation: $750 (@minigore - Mountain Sheep; developers of Minigore)
Humble THQ Bundle
On sale starting November 29, 2012. It included:
Added later on December 6, 2012, granted to those who bought the bundle earlier or paid more than the average donation:
- "Path to War" DLC for Red Faction: Armageddon
- Titan Quest
Similarly added on December 10, 2012:
As the title suggests, all the games included in the bundle are those published by THQ, who were suffering from financial woes at the time; unfortunately, the publisher went bankrupt a short time later. The games in the bundle were only available for Windows. It included soundtracks for all games except for Metro 2033. All available soundtracks were in mp3 format; only the soundtracks for Company of Heroes were also available in FLAC.
The Humble THQ Bundle has sold the most bundles to date, over 885k, though made barely less than Humble Indie Bundle V by a margin of $10k.
Humble Indie Bundle 7
On sale starting December 19. 2012. it Included:
Added later on December 27, 2012, granted to those who bought the bundle earlier, or paid more than the average donation.
As usual, paying more than the current average gave donators the games' individual soundtracks, in MP3 and FLAC format, and the bundle also included the DLCs for Dungeon Defenders and The Binding of Issac.
Donators who payed more than the average also receive a digital copy of Indie Game: The Movie, a documentary about the creation of Braid, Super Meat Boy, and FEZ.
- Total Payments: $2.7M
- # Bundles Sold: 395,936
- Highest Donation: $1,256 (WrapBootstrap)
Humble Bundle Mojam 2
On sale starting February 20, 2013, the games were created over a three day period by six teams and included:
Oxeye Game Studio
Over the period, the teams were tasked to create a game based on voted, sometimes silly, theme. Builds, soundtracks, and other assets were available to those who donated. Games varied between Windows, Mac, and Linux; the creating process was livestreamed through the Humble Bundle website. Upon hitting the $500k mark, Notch shaved off his trademark beard.
- Total Payments: $517k
- # Bundles Sold: 86,553
- Highest Donation: $100,000 (Anonymous donor)
Humble Bundle with Android #5
On sale starting March 5, 2013, it included:
Added later on March 12, 2013, granted to those who bought the bundle earlier, or paid more than the average donation:
As always, buyers received the soundtracks for the individual games, in both MP3 and FLAC formats. All games are also compatible with PC, Mac, and Linux. Dungeon Defenders included all the game's DLC.
The bundle was the most successful Android bundle to date, selling over $1.5 million. Additionally, during the period, players were challenged to beat the Super Hexagon high score of Humble Bundle co-founder John Graham.
- Total Payments: n/a
- # Bundles Sold: n/a
- Highest Donation: n/a
The Humble Mobile Bundle
Starting on March 26, 2013, this bundle features games available exclusively for Android; the bundle includes:
Added later on April 2, 2013, granted to those who bought the bundle earlier or paid more than the average donation:
- Total Payments: $683k
- # Bundles Sold: 120,606
- Highest Donation: $250 (Brett Seyler - Founder of Kerosine Games)
The Humble Double Fine Bundle
Starting on May 7, 2013, the bundle contains games developed by Double Fine Productions, it included:
Paying a specific amount also granted buyers special products, including:
- Broken Age "Backer Access" + Documentary ($35 or more)
- Humble Double Fine Bundle t-shit ($70 or more)
Later, on May 14, the bundle added all of the prototype games from the Double Fine Amnesia Fortnight, as well as the additional bonus prototypes and content that came with it. This was made available to those who bought the Double Fine Bundle previously or beat the average.
Humble Indie Bundle 8
Starting on May 28, 2013, the bundle includes:
Added later on June 4, 2013, granted to those who bought the bundle earlier or paid more than the average donation:
In addition to the games' soundtracks, donators also received a map pack for Oiul Rush and an exclusive "Cluck Clunk" chicken costume for Awesomenauts. At the time of the bundle, a native port for Dear Ester had not been officially released for Linux; instead it used a "custom-tailored version of Wine."
Humble Indie Bundle 9
On September 11, 2013 the bundle included:
On September 18, 2013 the bundle was updated to include access to the following games to anyone who beat the average price: