The 99 Percent Bundle or How To Be Proactive In Marketing Your Indie Game
A word that is fast becoming synonymous with indie games is ‘bundle’. This method of selling indie games was ignited with the Humble Indie Bundle back in May 2010 in which Wolfire Games harnessed the power of ‘pay-what-you-want’ promotions to increase sales for the indie games on offer as part of the bundle. The relative success of this venture has since caught on, and many other indie game bundles started to emerge. In the past few months we have seen the Indie Royale, the Indie Game Music Bundle, Indie Gala and soon the Little Big Bunch, and that will not be the last of them.
The latest bundle is a little different from those other bundles though. The 99 Percent Bundle was an idea that started in the mind of Zayne Black, or as you may know him, Zed. Most telling of his bundle is its pre-modifier, 99 Percent. It’s an obvious reference to the huge amount of indie games that do not get into these bundles, which is the focus of the 99 Percent Bundle. This topic has actually become slightly heated recently as some developers have claimed that it is the same games that get the mass exposure in these bundles, creating an ‘indie elite’.
With these kinds of discussions circulating, it probably was not the best of times for a document to slip out that was intended to inform developers of the 99 Percent Bundle. Zayne informs us that some people have already taking offence by his bundle.
“There’s no ‘malice’ or ‘bitterness’ meant by what we’re doing – The title is mostly just a joke, although I suppose it also represents the idea of being ‘proactive’ if you want to be noticed.”
Unfortunately it seems that the document has embittered too many people already, but Zayne is keen to rectify any bad feelings he may have incidentally provoked. If anything, it seems that Zayne is thankful for the bundles, and there can be no doubt of where he got his inspiration.
“The bundles are fantastic at what they do. The Humble Bundle obviously raises a massive amount of money for charity, and both it and the Royale bundles create significant exposure and revenue for the hard-working, more than deserving developers involved” says Zayne.
So what makes the 99 Percent Bundle different to the rest of them? First and foremost, the bundle is actually following the trend of the IGF Pirate Kart rather than the many other bundles, by having a non-commercial focus. The developers who sign up to be part of the 99 Percent Bundle are of the understanding that the games will be completely free to download. The point of the bundle is to gain some sought after exposure. Rather than joining in with the mass moaning of developers unhappy at missing out on a place in the Humble Bundle and its kin, Zayne is being more positive and doing something about it. As they say, actions speak louder than words.
“The 99 percent bundle is a bit different, in that I’m not expecting to receive a lot of games that require six or seven hours each to really appreciate. I’m not trying to ‘downplay’ the quality of what we’ll be offering, but I’d echo the sentiments of what I’m sure a lot of other people are saying right now: These games aren’t in those bundles for a reason. They’re likely going to be short, some of them might be ugly (I know mine are), but they’re games all the same and I think they deserve to be played. That’s really the message at the heart of this whole thing: Some guy(s)/girl(s) spent the time to craft these things. Someone should really play them, and somehow or another, they deserve to be covered.”
Getting It Together
Zayne admits that he is still trying to organise the bundle into something a little more coherent, but he did slip some details, none of which are set in stone as of yet.
Those who wish to submit their game to be part of the bundle should bring it to the attention of Zayne on twitter (@dedhedzed), and he will point you in the direction of the submission guidelines, although it is likely that a lot of you would have already seen them by this time.
It is very likely that the 99 Percent Bundle will be hosted exclusively on Indievania, and will likely be a .zip file unless Zayne manages to pull together a more formal ‘loader’ for it, time permitting. He says there will be a more ‘professional-looking’ front coming to the 99 Percent bundle in the next few days, with a deadline for submissions of Thursday 15th December. The hope is to get it hosted and released on Indievania for Monday 19th December, but all of that is subject to change as was previously noted.
Although the comparisons with the IGF Pirate Kart are looking inevitable, Zayne has drawn a faint line on entry in order to ensure that there is some form of quality control:
“The games need to be ‘complete’ (The Pirate Kart, great though it was, featured a lot of ‘non-working’ games, which was great for THAT, but not so much for THIS). Basically, anything that someone is proud of.”
The other thing to note is that this is for games that run on Windows only. Depending on demand and success though, Zayne is willing to cater to other platforms in the future. “Maybe there’ll be a Mac/Linux bundle somewhere down the line, if more than one of these things is requested” he said.
Momentum has already picked up though, and so far there are five confirmed entrants for the bundle. Obviously including Zayne and whatever game he decides to enter, the list includes:
An impressive little list already if we do say so. It is clear that Zayne is very proud of the lineup so far, barely containing his excitement:
“If you’re familiar with any of those, you should hopefully already KNOW that the level of quality here will be a high one and we’re not just ‘phoning it in’.”
With the apparent open field of entry and Zayne’s willingness, we could see a high number of entrants and games on offer in one downloadable file once again, mirroring the efforts of the IGF Pirate Kart. Zayne was quick to point out that this was all about exposure, and while the Pirate Kart was great, there were so many games that the limelight was ultimately spread far too thin.
“I anticipate maybe another five by the time submissions close although obviously, if we get more, I’ll have to think of some way to make sure everyone gets a fair amount of exposure” said Zayne.
We want to know what you think about the 99 Percent Bundle. Is this a good idea, if you’re a developer, are you going to submit your game? How about the topic of ‘indie elites’, does such a thing exist and are there too many bundles now?
More information on Zayne Black can be found over at his website, Zed’s Games. Follow him on Twitter @dedhedzed for updates on the 99 Percent Bundle, and feel free to ask him about entering your game!