Four years ago, something magic happened; the gamers of the internet were graced by the presence of the Humble Indie Bundle. It was the first real indie game bundle and the idea of paying as little as a dollar for a wealth of great games was a mindblowing concept. It was magic, really. Yet, now I fear that these indie game bundles have turned into something wicked and ugly, as we've reached a point where the market is oversaturated by bundles.
Do you know how many indie game bundles, or game bundles in general, are available right at this very moment? There are 18 bundles to choose from, and 19 if you think Ikoid's latest Android-only,Dark Souls bundle should qualify. Of the bundles mentioned, eight are from Bundle Stars. Groupees has three bundles available at this very moment. Not to mention bigger names like Humble, Indie Gala, and Indie Royale are covered this week with a roguelike weekly sale, January bundle, and Debut 9 bundle.
I appreciate a deal as much as anyone, but it's clearly gone too far. We're past the state of overload. This is overkill territory. The overabundance of indie game bundles does have its good points, but the bad is coming closer and closer to outweighing them.
To start, these constant bundles can result in the devaluation of indie games. While some, like Indie Royale, have a mindset where people have to pay an average or higher to acquire the bundle, many of the others allow people to pay a minimum of $1 or $1.50 to get DRM copies and Steam keys for each bundle. Bundle Stars flat out says, "Pay $X and you're set." The bombardment of deals like this makes us question the value of independent games. I'll admit to seeing some titles on Steam, looking at their $9.99 and $14.99 price tags, and wondering if it's worth it when, in a few months, there's a chance I can get them for pennies with a cluster of other games.
This means these indie game bundles are generating a "Wait until it appears in a bundle" mindset. The last indie game I purchased was Starbound. It isn't the most recent indie game I've wanted--Nidhogg looks amazing, and so do Teslagrad and The Novelist--but, each time I look at their $14.99 and $9.99 prices, those words pop into my head. "Wait until it appears in a bundle." It'll probably happen. Sure, I could get it now, but if I'm patient, and wait just a few more weeks, I could get one of those games and five others for a fraction of the price.
Which brings us to the another problem caused by an influx of bundles. Those who can't resist the allure of a good deal end up with a backlog we'll never complete. Before I decided to limit myself to one bundle every two months, I was getting an indie game bundle if even one game appealed to me. After all, the price of a bundle as a whole was cheaper than just buying that single game alone. It was only after acquiring three bundles in the span of two weeks that I realized I was never, ever going to play all of those games. I doled out the keys to the ones I'd never play to friends, and decided it was enough. I'm sure I'm not the only one.
I had experienced bundle burnout. I still have to keep up with them, for work, but now only consider grabbing actual Humble Bundles, and only if one has at least three games I know I would play. And the indie game bundle burnout is going to hit others, too. The idea of getting all of these games for such a great price is novelty now, but as that backlog grows and people see more and more email notifications in their inbox, they'll realize they don't really need to get Magicka and five other games for $3.02.
Please, distributors, enough with the indie game bundles. It's just too much, especially if a charity isn't involved somewhere in the process. You aren't giving indie game developers more exposure or a chance. You're just overloading customers with games they'll probably never play and making us question the actual value of these games.