Pay What You Like, Say Indie Game Makers

For a short time, you can get five computer games for a dollar, or $10, or $100 if you wish.

A group of independent game developers are selling the “Humble Indie Bundle” until Tuesday, May 11, allowing buyers to set their own price on the five-game package. The bundle includes World of Goo, Gish, Lugaru HD, Aquaria and Penumbra Overture. All games are available for Windows, Mac or Linux, and are DRM-free.

There’s also a charitable angle: Buyers can allocate all, part or none of their purchase to the Electronic Frontier Foundation and Child’s Play.

Radiohead popularized the pay-as-you-wish model with their 2007 album “In Rainbows,” released as downloadable MP3s before the CD launched. It was a successful experiment, as the band made more money before “In Rainbows” went to hard copy than they made in total for their previous album, “Hail to the Thief.”

Last October, World of Goo developer 2D Boy tried the idea themselves. The combination of media exposure and love for the game resulted in more than $100,000 earned. 2D Boy also surveyed buyers, and most said their contribution was all they could afford, or that they liked the pay-as-you-wish model and wanted to support it.

The folks behind “Humble Indie Bundle” are sharing statistics in real-time. So far, the developers have raised more than $300,000, with an average contribution of just under $8. One anonymous benefactor spent $500 for the bundle, whose actual value is $80. Another fun statistic: The number of Mac and Linux buyers are roughly equal, and about half the number of Windows buyers.

I don’t think you’ll find any consumers who don’t like pay as you wish, as long as it works for the seller. All these games are more than a year old, so the bundle seems like a great way for developers to build up cash and attention for their next indie undertakings.

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