THQ is following popular independent developers behind games like Aquaria and Gish and packaging its games together for a name-your-price sale hosted by Humble Bundle Inc. Starting in 2010, Humble Bundle hosted sales clumping games together and letting customers pay whatever they like, to avoid piracy and ensure that the developers were compensated for their goods in addition to raising funds for charities like Child’s Play. To date, though, the numerous bundles have been for games made by independently owned studios and solo developers. THQ, though, is a large, publicly traded company whose primary business is retail console video games.
What’s THQ selling? Downloadable versions of its strongest games from recent years including Darksiders and Metro 2033 as well as the lame duck Red Faction: Armageddon and Company of Heroes (plus its expansions) are included in the package. Paying above the current average of $5.69 will also net you a copy of Saints Row the Third. As of this writing THQ has sold nearly 423,000 bundles, raising around $2 million. THQ CEO Jason Rubin even made a purchase, spending $1,050 on the bundle.
THQ’s status as a large corporate entity isn’t the only thing that makes this bundle an anomaly for Humble Bundle Inc. Only Windows editions of the games are available for download and all games are protected by Digital Rights Management (DRM) measures. Part of the original goal of Humble Bundle Inc. was to encourage commerce around DRM-free games, bracing for a certain level of piracy while also encouraging legitimate purchases.
There’s more than one way to turn a buck in the video game business. THQ has tried them all in recent years. The MX vs. ATV series tried to bring mobily-style microtransactions to consoles in 2011, retailing for a below-average $39.99 and selling the rest of the game piecemeal. THQ’s even resorted to giving games away alongside others to boost sales, packaging early copies of Darksiders with download codes for Red Faction: Guerilla which was at the time still a $60 game. All for not in THQ’s case. The Red Faction and MX vs. ATV series are dead at this point, and the company is still in financial dire straits. No wonder THQ is trying something new and following the indies.