October 16, 2017 // 9:55 a.m.
Digital distribution specialist Humble Bundle has announced its surprise acquisition by games review company IGN for an undisclosed sum.
Launched with a two-pronged desire to assist independent developers (indies) to gain exposure while also raising money for charity, Humble Bundle became popular on the back of its innovative pay-what-you-want bundle sales and lack of digital rights management (DRM). In recent years, however, the company has been struggling to maintain momentum in the face of dozens of rival bundle sites with the result that its original focus has been significantly broadened: As well as offering bundles of games from major publishers like the sadly-departed THQ, Deep Silver, Electronic Arts, Warner Bros., Square Enix, and Nintendo, none of which could ever be described as 'indie', the company also launched the fixed-price Humble Store, the Humble Originals publishing arm, and physical goods for gamers.
Having laid off a fifth of its staff in 2015 as a result of what the company described as 'too ambitious' hiring practices, Humble Bundle has now found some deep pockets to keep the lights on: game review giant IGN, formerly the Imagine Games Network, a subsidiary of publishing company Ziff Davis.
'Humble Bundle is proudly joining the IGN family! We will continue to bring you all of our humble products, but with more resources and help from IGN,' claims Jeffrey Rosen, co-founder and chief executive officer of the company, in the announcement. 'We chose IGN because they really understand our vision, share our passion for games, and believe in our mission to promote awesome digital content while helping charity. I can’t think of a better partner than IGN to help Humble Bundle continue our quest. We will be working harder than ever to bring you the best gaming bundles, book bundles, and store sales, while nurturing the Humble Monthly and our new publishing initiative. We will keep our own office, culture, and amazing team with IGN helping us further our plans. We will raise even more money for charity.
'John [Graham] and I started Humble Bundle from our childhood homes. When our parents found out that our “big idea” was basically the honour system of pay-what-you-want plus charity, they braced themselves for the possibility that we might never move out. Seven years later, thanks to the generosity of over 10 million customers, we’ve now raised $106 million for charity. We are incredibly proud of this figure, of our team, and the Humble community which got us here. But as far as we’ve come, we know we are just getting started. Even bigger things lie ahead, and we think IGN is the perfect partner to help us get there. If you like Humble Bundle now, stay tuned, because we’ll have more exciting things to share in the near future.'
The company's fans, however, are not so sure that IGN is a great fit - especially given a company which reviews games is now also in the business of selling them. Comments on the announcement include: 'I guess I'll just start buying straight from Steam then;' 'you mean you sold your soul to the biggest pissbucket of the industry;' 'RIP Humble then;' 'nice knowing you, Humble. You had a good run;' and 'a games review site purchasing a site/store front for games is unethical at worst and shady at best.'
Financial terms of the deal have not been disclosed, nor whether ownership under IGN will require any further job losses from Humble Bundle.