Humble Bundle have removed the sliders thet let you determine how money from a purchase is split between the publisher, a charity and Humble. In May, Humble will instead implement two fixed options which cap the charitable donation you can make at 15%, while increasing the amount that goes to the publisher.
The sliders and the charitable donations are Humble’s original unique feature and remain a core appeal of the store versus competitors, and their remove has been meet by widespread criticism.
In a blog post made yesterday, Humble explained that they started trialing the change away from sliders for some users around a month ago. “This test was part of our bigger plans to make updates to the bundle pages, but without any context, we see how it raised questions and led to confusion for the community. We apologize for that and appreciate everyone who wrote in to ask us about it.”
The plan to remove the sliders, the post says, is driven by a desire to bring bundles in line with other parts of the site which already lack them, such as the Humble Store.
With the sliders, the default split gave 65% to publishers, 30% to Humble and 5% to charity. You could move those sliders with no restrictions, however, allowing you to give the entirety of Humble’s share to charity, for example.
Now, beginning in May, the site will offer two static options. The default will still give 5% to charity, but increases the publisher’s share to 85% and reduces Humble’s to 10%. The user is then able to select an option to donate extra to charity, which increases the charitable donation to 15% while giving 80% to the publisher and 5% to Humble.
The blog post doesn’t address the reduction in the potential charitable donation. Pinning the change on bringing one part of the site “more in line” with another part is a strange pitch, too, given the consistency seemgingly offers no benefit to anyone.
The announcement has been met, inevitably, with widespread criticism from users and game developers. At the time of writing, the tweet announcing the change has 618 quote tweets, all of which are dunking on the decision.
Humble launched over a decade ago with a bundle that featured the ability to pay-what-you-want and support charities. Today we’re sharing some updates coming to bundle pages and how they will help us continue to support charity. https://t.co/0sXM6dT0V0
— Humble Bundle (@humble) April 23, 2021
Humble Bundle launched back in 2010 at a very different time for digital storefronts. At that time, 30% was the typical cut for a storefront to take from a purchase. Steam still take that much from most games now, but rivals like the Epic Games Store take only 15%. Perhaps Humble feel they need to increase the publisher’s cut in order to compete.
Humble Bundle was also bought by IGN in 2017. IGN are a part of Ziff Davis, who in turn are owned by J2 Global. At the time, Humble co-founder and CEO Jeffrey Rosen said that the “big idea” behind Humble was “basically the honor system of pay-what-you-want plus charity.” He also said that Humble would “keep our own office, culture, and amazing team with IGN helping us further our plans. We will raise even more money for charity.” (The Humble blog post announcing the sale has seemingly been deleted, but you can see it on the Wayback Machine.)
In terms of charitable donations, that’s arguably held true. At the time of the acquisition in 2017, Humble had raised $106 million for charity. The most recently reported figure places that at $195 million (around £140 million). It’s also worth remembering that it’s not like any other digital storefront lets you donate 5% or 15% of your game purchase to a charity.
But this is the problem. Humble’s only real appeal to me and a lot of other users is its charitable features, as it’s otherwise just a Steam and Epic Games Store key reseller. It’s a less interesting and potentially less charitable store without the sliders, and Humble have offered nothing to counter the suspicion that removing them is a change driven by greed.
Disclosure: It’s worth noting that the RPS supporter program uses a Humble widget to handle payments. We’ve been working on replacing it for a while.