We are lucky to have the chance to converse with Richard Esguerra. He is a core part of the Humble Indie Bundle crew and was a Senior Activist for the Electronic Frontier Foundation. We want to thank him for his time, and now on to the questions:
Nerd Age’s Scholar: The Humble Indie Bundle has been a staple in the industry for some time now, but who came up with it in the first place?
Richard Esguerra of Humble Indie Bundle: John Graham and Jeffrey Rosen were at Wolfire Games, looking for a way to promote Lugaru, their studio’s first indie game.
They basically took inspiration from every kind of successful online sale — promoting awesome games together, pay-what-you-want pricing, cross-platform compatibility, helping charity, and honest dealings with customers — and put them all together for the first Humble Indie Bundle.
NA: The Humble Indie Bundle is starting to get similar competition. What do you want your fanbase to know that sets the Humble Indie Bundle apart from its competitors?
Richard: Humble Indie Bundles put everything together — totally pay-what-you-want, cross-platform, DRM-free, helps charities, with customizable sliders. Also, we have exceedingly helpful and deadly support ninjas.
NA: Many people buy the bundle without fully knowing what they are supporting. Tell us about the EFF and what it does.
Richard: The Electronic Frontier Foundation works to protect digital civil liberties — like online free speech, privacy, and other rights. For example, the EFF fought to make it legal to jailbreak your smartphone. And they went after Sony for including rootkits in music CDs that compromised consumers’ computers.
EFF is pretty vital in a world where it can be very profitable for companies to prevent individuals from doing what they want to do with technology.
NA: Voxatron is extremely impressive, but came out of nowhere. Does the bundle get a lot of submissions like this?
Richard: Thanks — we’ll pass the compliment on to Lexaloffle! Voxatron is rather unique. We do get a lot of submissions for games.
NA: Have you ever considered offering DLC for free in any future bundles?
Richard: It’s mostly up to the developer, but we’d definitely consider it. Some of the bundle games have included brand new content updates, like Binding of Isaac and Blocks That Matter. And customers of the Humble Voxatron Bundle will receive future Voxatron updates, though in some ways that’s not the same as DLC.
NA: On the same note, you’ve even had cancelled games in your lineup. Could we one day see a bundle that includes alpha games, cancelled games and soundtracks together?
Richard: Perhaps, but probably not! Offering high-quality games is really important to us, and Jack Claw was kind of a special case. But we wouldn’t rule it out if there’s some really compelling stuff out there that makes sense to bundle.
NA: We’ve seen bundles start at multiple games, and we’ve seen them jump from one game to several. Can you tell us anything about how the Humble Indie Bundle crew decides to choose and release bundles?
Richard: Yeah, it’s a real mix of factors. We care a lot about cross-platform gaming, so one thing that might be kind of unexpected is that the timing for bundles is affected by looking for games that are ported to Linux and figuring out Linux porting in general. But mostly, it’s kind of a blend of gut feelings about what games work well together, and straight-up logistics.
Also, we think of ourselves as a pretty new operation, so we’re still experimenting with ideas. Doing some bundles with a few games means that we can offer more cross-platform, pay-what-you-want promotions more often, which benefits developers and customers.
A few concerned users seem to be afraid that we’re settling on a single kind of promotion, but behind-the-scenes we’re working on bundles of all shapes and sizes.
NA: Charity and gaming have become deeply intertwined, with everything from the bundle to literally making games for charity like some companies. How do you see this process evolving over time?
Richard: I’m not really sure where it will go, but I can definitively say that the charities and non-profits really do appreciate the attention and the support. I think it might all come from a broader recognition that gamers care about the world, and including charities is a way to connect to other issues we care about.
NA: Can you give any advice to developers who want their game chosen?
Richard: We don’t have an ironclad rubric or anything, so it’s hard to say. But I think any developer that really focuses on gameplay and developing an authentic voice stands to win in this environment.
NA: Can you give any general advice, perhaps about forming relationships, to developers who want to succeed in the industry?
Richard: Flexibility feels like an exceedingly important trait for business and otherwise. Set some meaningful standards and work honestly with other people in the space.
We once again want to thank the Humble Bundle crew for their time. Be sure to check out the bundle and remember that your donations help fellow developers and those in need. Not to mention getting to play the overworld map from Super Mario Bros 3 in Voxatron.