A Shake-up in Dark Android Gaming?
I say it all the time: in life, I’m a gamer before I’m anything else. More particularly, I’m part of the “PC Master Race” (I’m ethnically Jewish, and I don’t mind that term at all, thank you), but handheld gaming is certainly a long-held passion of mine. Be it playing the original Game Boy in the back of the family van, rocking on my Atari Lynx (yes, I owned one) in my bedroom in the middle of the night, or playing on my custom-Zelda-cased Nintendo DS at work (don’t tell anybody I did…well…I don’t work there anymore, so go ahead), I think mobile gaming is a fantastic thing.
I’ve been really pleased that for all of my plans to help people create DAPS-oriented devices with the Dark Android Project here, I’ve been able to translate my passion for gaming into even the most anonymous and secure of lifestyles. Much of this is only possible due to Humble Bundle. While they offer Android and PC single games and game packages for great deals, the real beauty is that they’ve accepted Bitcoin for years. In short, through Humble Bundle you can get DRM-free Android games for your Dark Android device that don’t need to be downloaded through the Play Store, and you can buy them anonymously with Bitcoin (even the Humble Bundle app is independently downloaded from their website). It doesn’t get much better than that.
On that note, I noticed something a little shocking yesterday. For some time Humble Bundle has had a specific tab and a specific sale bi-weekly for Android game bundles. And yesterday, that section of the site disappeared. It wasn’t until much later in the day that Humble Bundle officially addressed the change on their blog, and they effectively said that they’re not stopping selling Android games or even Android game bundles, but they just won’t be doing it on as regular a basis.
Honestly, I can understand this. Android (and iOS) games, while having hundreds or thousands of games available, don’t really fit the PC gaming model that Humble Bundle usually works with in that most games on mobile are “freemium” or loaded with in-app purchases (IAP). Thus, mobile games don’t work very well in “pay once, play forever” stores and bundles, so it’s only natural that Humble Bundle would quickly run out of actual games they could offer to people in bundles without running into very repetitive game offerings. All that said, though, I hate the freemium/IAP model with every fiber of my being. I get it, most game development houses aren’t like me where it’s a one-man show, as they have either tens or hundreds of employees that need to get paid, and “forcing” gamers to endlessly buy more stuff for the game to even be able to advance in it is an attractive way to make money and secure those paychecks. But I’d much rather live in a world where you need to make great games, and asking 10, 20, or even 30 bucks a shot is considered worth it (even on mobile platforms).
Anyway, if you read their blog post, it’s not like Humble Bundle will no longer offer Android games, quite the opposite. Now they’re just going to offer Android bundles less frequently, and make single games more available in the Humble Store. There’s a good and a bad side to this, too, however. The good side is that with Android games being more available in the Humble Store and not being sold so often in bundles means that we are getting a real alternative to the Play Store to buy games from, and will give developers another popular avenue to release their games on, and in a DRM-free fashion. This is important because Alphabet/Google and other game companies like Sega are notorious for removing apps and games from the Play Store on a whim, with you having little option of ever getting your purchase back. So Humble Bundle offering this can be a huge boon for developers, and a very good thing for consumers.
The only real bad side comes from the Dark Android perspective. For a few months now, Humble Bundle has backed a bit off on its acceptance of Bitcoin as payment for games and bundles. In fact the Humble Store doesn’t accept Bitcoin as payment any longer at all. So if the focus on the ability to get Android games from Humble Bundle is now more concentrated on the Humble Store…well…buying them anonymously becomes more of an issue. The bundles at Humble Bundle have still largely been purchasable with Bitcoin, so you’ll still be able to get games that way, but again, those are going to be less frequent now.
Again, I do understand why Humble Bundle is doing this (to say nothing of the new gaming subscription service they offered), and it makes total sense from a business standpoint, and I don’t begrudge them in any way for this. Humble Bundle is still a fantastic service and the fact that they give so much to charity with people’s purchases (another reason to buy their bundles and games) makes it a no-brainer to continue to do business with them. But I just wanted readers of the Dark Android blog to be aware that the Humble Bundle option is slightly less viable now.