If you don't know what I'm talking about it might be a good idea to check out the website, for a definitive description of what they are about. Basically they sell games. Interestingly you pay whatever you like, whatever you think those games are worth to you, and you get the games DRM-free. You heard me right: free of Digital Rights Management. So install it on all the machines you own. Theoretically you could 'lend' it to a friend and let them 'try' it. The other nice thing about your purchase is that you can adjust a handy set of sliders and control what percentage of your purchase goes to each of the game developers and the charities that Humble Bundle support.
Machinarium is from the, allegedly, long dead point 'n' click genre. You point at things and click, the little robot you're controlling will then move to that location or use the thing you've clicked. Sometimes he shakes his head wildly and then you know you can't do that. To be honest there isn't a whole lot more to tell, it's a very, very simple premise and the addictive nature of the games grows out of this simplicity. Puzzles involve finding, combining and using objects in a variety of ways in order to progress to other devilishly simple, teasing, hair pulling out puzzles. Machinarium is fantastic.
I've consistently argued that the debate about online 'piracy' and file sharing, dominated in the mainstream media by the multi-billion dollar entertainment giants, is skewed and misleading. The basic premise of the argument is that file-sharing is stealing from the entertainment industry and worse still creative artists. This is founded on the false premise that one unit copied digitally is one lost unit of revenue because if the downloader of that media could not acquire it from file-sharing resources then they would go out and buy the media from a 'legitimate' source.
At first glance this looks like a reasonable argument. However, the truth, as always, is more complicated. Independent studies have shown that people have a budget that they put aside for entertainment purposes: going to the cinema; buying movies, TV and music media to consume at home; watching live music; buying recorded music; consuming books, magazines and news. Access to and use of file-sharing sites and 'free' media has absolutely no effect on entertainment expenditure whatsoever. So, despite the fact that an individual can and does download digital media from the Internet their expenditure on entertainment does not vary significantly across the year, We can only conclude that whatever people can afford to spend on entertainment they do already. If we took away peoples access to file-sharing sites wholesale, overnight would there be a sudden surge in revenues by the Entertainment Industry? No, probably not.
The study also showed another surprising fact. For those people who downloaded more digital entertainment media from the Internet, via file-sharing sites, the greater the appetite for that media. Consequently the the higher the proportion of their income they were prepared to invest in entertainment. It seems ironic at first glance but the conclusion is inevitable the biggest file-sharers spend largest proportion of their income on 'legal' media. The only way to increase peoples spending on legitimate media is to increase their income. File-sharing does not negatively effect peoples spending habits in relation to buying entertainment industry product. Quite the contrary, file-sharing appears to slightly increase a persons expenditure as they will prioritise a larger proportion of their income to entertainment.
The Entertainment Industry is constantly publishing figures that appear to demonstrate that file-sharing is damaging their business and whittling away at their profits. The sad truth is that these figures are speculative at best and based upon the assumption I describe above that one download equals the lost of revenue from one unit. For example, if I were to download one copy of album the record industry would conclude that they have been robbed of the revenue from one CD or iTunes sale of that album. Isn't that true? Well, all the evidence suggests that I have already spent all the money, whatever proportion of my income I would normal spend on music already, so if I couldn't download this theoretical album would I go out and buy it. No the studies clearly indicate that no one would. They also show something else that I will illustrate by a simple understandable example. What if the album I downloaded exceeded my expectations and I fell in love. Yeah, there is a very good chance I would rush out and blow part of my budget for something else this month on the physical CD, with the artwork and inset booklet that told me a little bit about the album and maybe gave me lyrics. Yes, access to file-sharing tends to increase the proportion of income expenditure on the media shared.
Humble Indie Bundles embrace the new digital economy and succeed by offering accessibility, opportunity and value. They made $1.8 million from the last bundle, more power to them.