The "Humble Indie Bundle" was wildly successful, with almost 140,000 contributors shelling out over $1.2 million, over 30% of which was allocated to the charities. And in an act of "giving back," the developers of Penunbra Overture, Aquaria, Lugaru and Gish pledged to go open source.
I chatted with Jeffrey Rosen, co-founder of Wolfire Games today about the Humble Indie Bundle and about his thoughts on open source gaming and the potential for repeating the bundle's success.
It may be that the gaming industry is a perfect match for open source, as both gaming and open source rely on a community that is interested in a certain amount of reciprocity - contributing and sharing so as to improve the code (and the game).
Another key to the success of the "Humble Indie Bundle" was the collaboration with several indie gaming companies. Rosen said he'd often seen Steam promote "indie bundles" to huge success and wanted to try this on his terms. Wolfire Games is a small startup, with only four employees, and by collaborating with other indies, they've been able to reach a wider audience. The massive success of the Humble Indie Bundle is a case in point.
Rosen's brother and co-founder David wrote a blog post reminding people that openware isn't freeware. "The source code is intended to help out modders and aspiring game programmers, and will probably not be particularly useful for gamers who just want to get the game for free. Since we have no DRM, there are probably easier ways to pirate the game than learning how to compile and run a C++ project from a Mercurial repo."
Rosen says there doesn't seem to be any loss of revenue or sales by going open source, although with the success of the Humble Indie Bundle, this little indie might have seen more sales this month that even before. Regardless, it does point to the strength in collaboration and the potential for open source for indie gaming startups.