Bundled Expectations

Before we press on, the bundle dealer list is at the bottom of the page, so if you’re in a hurry, click to skip right to the dealer list.

Humble Bundle, Indie Gala, Indie Royale, Bundle Stars and more. Choose what you pay bundles have become a go-to for budget gamers to fill out their otherwise sparse libraries. Some bundles even consist of music, movies, tutorials, courses, books and comics. In these cases your choice is obvious; buy if you appreciate the content, but as often happens, gamers face more subtle and frustrating annoyances.

Who are you supporting, the developers? the charity? the vendors? the bundlers? Goodness, well, for the price, does it matter? When you’ve got your bundle, are your games going to play? Will you have to patch or modify them to work with modern systems? Is your money better spent on a new or recent release with better developer support?

Let’s assume right now that you’re here for more than the momentary distraction that is Candy Crush and its plethora of cousins. Only the best for you, my friend. The best, well, now that’s not cheap, is it? While sixty dollars may not seem like much to some, for us humble gamers, that’s probably more than we want to spend in a single sitting. In that case, I’d like to introduce you to bundle software sales.

Humble Bundle was the first and possibly the best of its kind, gathering yesteryear games and Indie titles into crazy affordable packages for a limited time. Digital Rights Management free, and usually with tasty extras like soundtrack and art! Sweet, right? Undoubtedly!

The Perks
Value is the first and most obvious benefit of bundles; saving hundreds of dollars on retail releases is often enough of a pitch alone, but music and art are occasionally included. Coupons for access to early access, beta or pre-release software are sometimes included.

So far, my favorite is receiving all of the Downloadable Content for a specific title in one cheap package. I can not think of a single downside, because you can gift the bundle to anyone you choose and share the wealth! What’s more is all of these games take up no physical space … just the storage on your gaming PC.

So what could possibly go amiss?

Buyer Beware
Let’s face it; software and hardware changes. If you own a Playstation One, Two, Three OR Four and have the disc that works with that system, you’re golden. PC games are shipped with a quiet ‘as-is’ policy and absolutely no guarantee to run on your store bought laptop or custom built desktop.

Good Old Games (GOG.com) is the only online store that prepares its products to run on modern systems. Dos games are installed with Dosbox, a slick emulator for those yester-era gems like Beneath a Steel Sky (which incidentally is a free download if you sign up for the service). Bonuses like guides, artwork, music, original marketing material are included in your purchase. This is a great way to feel like an elite collector, especially if your budget is prohibitive.

It’s not realistic to expect the publishers to do this; like us they’re too busy trying to pay tomorrow’s bills than ensure that we get our hit of nostalgia. That said, there sure is a lot of money to be made doing so. This market has presence and is a thriving part of the industry.

These bundles are like any shopping experience and the fact is that you’re getting what you pay for, though warranting functionality just isn’t a priority. Sometimes a deal is too good to be true; Bundle Stars requires you to have a Visa Debit if you want to pay with Paypal, whereas Humble Bundle accepts Paypal instant transfers, and no warning is offered until you try to check out with items in your cart.

Try to imagine discounted paper towel not soaking up liquid for a moment. Insane, right? This is what can happen in PC gaming. The present trend of selling games unsuited to play on the majority platform is harmful to the bundle industry as a whole, and certainly worth a warning.

You’re welcome.

Bundle Up, Snuggle In
Each bundle deal site is plain in presentation, and generally if you understand what you’re seeing, you know what you’re getting. If not, do some research, or stay in safe waters. Nintendo’s eShop, Microsoft Windows Store, and Sony’s Playstation Store are all robust examples of online retailing done right; tested, warranted and valuable.

Bundling will likely continue, with millions earned for developers, charities, pubslishers and the bundlers themselves. Yes, the ethics of charity for profit is questionable (hint: I’m against it, but that doesn’t stop me from picking up a ripe bundle here and there), but it is here to stay.

Bundle Dealers
Speaking of here … here is the list of major bundle deal retailers. All links open in a new window/tab. These sites and services require a free account to be registered with their service. Steam, EA Origin, Square-Enix, Uplay and Epic Games also require free account registrations.

Humble Bundle – Games, Movies, Books, Comics delivered weekly, monthly, by franchise and online store. Many games redeemable with online vendors like Steam, Uplay, and EA Origin, otherwise offered in DRM free download packages.
Indie Gala – Strictly Games. Every Something Bundle; Monday, Hump Day, Friday, including themed bundles from Indie developers and major game publishers. Features online store.
Indie Royale – Indie games, debut titles and daily deals.
Bundle Stars – Games from Indies and major publishers alike. Featuring as much as 90% off popular and little known titles. Deals exclusively in Steam titles.
Green Man Gaming – Games. Online vouchers for instant deals on current release titles. Mystery bundles, Grab More Games, Early Access. Compatible with third parties such as Steam.

Beware that some free games are peddled by disreputable sites to encourage you to buy a subscription or download malware to your PC. The above sites have been operating for years now and have good business reputations. When in doubt, check it out! None are listed with the BBB, but I don’t doubt they could be. Forewarned is forearmed!

Have fun!

hastypixels
hastypixels

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