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Humble Bundle Insta-Post-Mortem
by Andy Schatz on 03/04/14 07:55:00 pm   Expert Blogs   Featured Blogs

The following blog post, unless otherwise noted, was written by a member of Gamasutra’s community.
The thoughts and opinions expressed are those of the writer and not Gamasutra or its parent company.


Crossposted from the Pocketwatch blog 

Monaco just finished up its two week run in Humble Indie Bundle 11.  So, how’d we do?

Total payments: $2,323,681

  • Ranked 6th among 11 Humble Indie Bundles
  • Highest Gross: HIB 5 ($5.10+ M)

Number of purchases: 493,816

  • Ranked 3rd among 11 Humble Indie Bundles
  • Most units sold: HIB 9 (715,012 units)

We sold a ton of units, but with a fairly low average price ($4.71). One can probably assign partial blame to the Beat the Average games, Monaco and Antichamber.  The bundle may have ended up with a higher average price (and thus a much higher gross) had Monaco been swapped with Guacamelee or Dust: An Elysian Tale.  Even so, we performed quite well, and a lot of people are playing our games now!

How much did Monaco make?

Monaco was a Beat the Average game, which means that not all HIB bundle sales resulted in a Monaco sale.  Of the 493,000 bundles sold, 370,034 of them included Monaco.  Of those, 270,677 have activated their Steam keys.  Interestingly, this means three quarters of the Humble customers beat the average.  (Remember that the average starts low and climbs as people beat the average)

This means that Monaco has now sold over 750,000 copies!

Distribution of revenue typically ends up being the default distribution of 65% developers, 20% charity, 15% humble tip.

With 6 developers, plus the mid-week additions of Fez, Starseed Pilgrim, and BeatBuddy, that’s around 8% per developer.

Monaco grossed approximately $215,000 over the course of the Humble Bundle.  Of course we’ll know more when we get the actual sales report.  In any case, that’s a nice hefty sum!

Steam Sales and Cannibalization

This chart shows gross revenue of sale on Steam (not Humble Bundle) over the last 31 days.  The Humble Bundle started on the 18th.  Despite the huge number of units that we sold in the Humble Bundle, it doesn’t appear that our presence in the HIB affected our day-to-day Steam revenue.

Why is this?  My guess is that customers tend to be loyal to sales channels.  Customers that buy from Humble Bundle tend to only buy indie games from there, and customers that buy full priced games on Steam probably don’t know about — or don’t care about — Humble Bundle.

What do you think?  Any theories as to why Steam sales don’t appear to be affected by an active Pay What You Want bundle?

-Andy Schatz  @andyschatz

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Kyle Redd
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That revenue chart at the end is a bit confusing. You said the bundle started on the 18th - could you mark that exact day on the chart so that the revenue trajectory is clearer?

It appears to me that, contrary to your impression, the launch of the bundle *did* have a sharp downward effect on Steam sales for the first few days, followed by an unexplainable significant spike in revenue afterwards and another sharp drop after that.

I understand if you don't want to give exact figures, but could you give us a revenue "range" for the chart - About how much difference is there between the highest revenue day and the lowest?

Andy Schatz
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Steam revenue for the two weeks before Humble Bundle was $10650, revenue during the Humble Bundle was $9812. There obviously is a small difference, but not enough to attribute to more than noise and the game aging.

Adriaan Jansen
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I think a few reasons, most important being that the customer (especially the target audience of a game like Monaco) is trained to buy games only at discount. I defnitely think that Humble used to be a bit of a trendsetter when it came down on which games to buy. The bundles were pretty exclusive and far in between, but now there is always a bundle running. It also doesn't help that a gamer now has an infinite backlog (with often Monaco sitting there too), making the competition for attention (and word of mouth) very ver heavy. So I think it's a mix between loss of curation (in this case by Humble), game devaluation (by Discount Craze), and discount training (by Discount Craze).

Alex Covic
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"(especially the target audience of a game like Monaco) is trained to buy games only at discount"

I take offense to that, as a consumer. I am the target audience, too and bought the game Day 1 on Steam (for the full price, of course). Having seen Andy hosting the IGF Awards shortly before (like a Rockstar!) and plugging his game there, might have helped. I wanted to "support that guy".

The "Indie" audience is not a homogenous crowd?

You target different audiences at different price levels? "Price politics" is a science in itself?

Didn't Gabe Newell (or somebody from Valve) say on record that after the Holiday sales or discounts, the sales for these same games are still going strong for a couple days, despite the fact, that they are full price now? (There's a Gama article burried about that somewhere here?). But, I still would not know why the day-to-day sales would not be affected.

Whenever someone like me (male, old, working, income) sees a "Humble Bundle" or any kind of discount, I say to myself "already have that". Older people buy things (whenever it pleases them), younger people (thinner pockets), have to look for discounts?

Lex Luthor
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@Alex Covic
These are my exact thoughts. Bought it full price once it got on steam.

I actually lost interest in the humble bundles because of their frequency. Too many of them and I guess and I grew tired. I don't even check the emails they send me lately.

I also find this highly speculative and based on essentially nothing:
"I think a few reasons, most important being that the customer (especially the target audience of a game like Monaco) is trained to buy games only at discount."

Adriaan Jansen
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Sorry, I did not mean to offend. I also already owned most of the Humble games, bought at full price. Actually, I bought Guacamelee on full price during the bundle.

But we're talking big numbers (750 000!). Sales are frequent, and a lot of gamers are still looking to get a good deal. There are tons of people who'll wait for a humble bundle or an important sale moment. Gamers who are on Steam see the patterns, and a part will make use of that pattern. To add, chances are significant that if you didn't hear about a game until it came out on humble, you were not that interested in the game to begin with, and you won't mind waiting for the next sale. As youself probably agree, most of the games in the humble bundle are high profile indie games, and a lot of gamers already know about them or think they won't suit their needs. Players like you are less likely to be part of the wave of sales increase after a Humble Bundle, right?

This also explains the difference with a steam sale. When a game is on sale on steam, chances are significantly smaller that they'll be on sale any time soon again. The consumer is then thinking about waiting more in terms of months.

I'm not suggesting that all buyers are the same, I'm merely saying that I do believe discounts are a part of the change we see in buying behaviour trends, especially in regard to gamers who get to know about games through Humble Bundle.

Although I agree that "the most important reason" is indeed speculative, and I stand corrected in that.

And you're right that the target audience is bigger than steamgamers who have sales as their primary way of getting games.

Andy Schatz
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I think the idea of "target" audience is a bit too narrowly defined here. Monaco's target audience includes people that are willing to buy a 4-pack on launch day and people that are only willing to buy it for a penny. Bundles, Steam discounts, and 4-packs offer us price flexibility, which allow us to target a much broader range of customer.

Daniel Richards
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I'd also wonder whether there's a form of viral effect on Steam. Lots of users who've just picked up Monaco through the humble bundle would register and be playing it through Steam in the first few days, which might drive their friends to investigate and potentially buy the game.

Scott Lavigne
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This is one of the things I thought of.

Another idea to consider is how the bundle option on Steam (4-person pack) affects things. How many of your sales are the multi-game packs on Steam instead of single buys? Did this change during the HIB? All it takes is one person to buy a pack on Steam to deny 3 HIB sales, and if all you want is Monoco, I can see someone just buying the 4-pack instead of 4 HIBs.

Andy Schatz
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Yup, we definitely saw a boost in our day-to-day full price purchases after the steam winter sale was over, probably because of increased word of mouth.

Ron Dippold
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Probably not related, but thank you, this is pretty much exactly what I asked for in the comments of

Very interesting indeed that it doesn't seem to cannibalize your normal purchases.