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Unintentional Hardball

Just got this email from Humble:

There is a saying that “He who speaks first loses,” which is supposed to be a negotiation power-play. This is very convenient for me, since I tend to not say anything when things get awkward, lest I make things more awkward. Which is does, inevitably. But I somehow get rewarded for it, so I never change.

So… thanks, Humble. I was going to buy the bundle for $12, but I accept your $6 counter-offer.

Humble Choices

You would be forgiven for not following the changes to the Humble Choice subscription, as it has gone through a number of iterations over the years. The latest move was to basically do away with all the previous nonsense of four tiers and go back to “pay $12 for X games.” I mean, it was clever of them to crank up the FOMO in canceling your Classic subscription, knowing it would cost you 60% more a month if you came crawling back. But unfortunately for them, that coincided with both a dearth of worthwhile bundle offerings and blistering competition from Game Pass and Epic Store (to an extent).

Seriously, looking at my Humble account, the last bundle I actually purchased was in April 2020. I maintained my Classic subscription this whole time by “Pausing” it each month, in the hopes I would find something worthwhile next time. I forgot to pause it like six times overall, but requested and received refunds each time. Not everyone bothers though, and that is why companies pull this shit.

Ironically, due to the changes, I was actually feeling good about finally canceling the subscription altogether instead of constantly pausing. The sweeteners that Humble are adding to keep people subscribed… don’t quite it hit the mark. Unless the mark was my face, in which case it slapped.

Previously, if you were an Active subscriber in the Classic/Premium tier, you had a 20% discount in the Humble Store. Pause a month and you lost that discount, but it went back to 20% if you actually bought a particular month’s bundle. Now there is a loyalty system in which consecutive months of subscribership are necessary to reach the 20%. Crucially, if you pause/skip a month, the discount resets to the lowest level (10%). Buy 11 months in a row but not feeling the 12th? Back to 10% for you.

Granted, some of this concern is moot. The only game I have ever directly bought off the Humble Store was Rimworld, precisely because the devs never let it go on sale, thus getting a discount via storefront was worthwhile. However, over the intervening years other storefronts (GMG, Fanatical) have better/comparable discounts without the hoops.

Humble is also introducing a standalone app that will let you play a small assortment of Humble-owned games as long as you are subscribed. Many of these are already on the Game Pass or given away for free on Epic. This is in addition to the “Trove” of DRM-free games that you could download and keep playing forever afterwards. Neither of which seem particularly compelling considering you could probably just subscribe for a month, get your fill, and be done. A Game Pass this is not.

That said… I might actually comp this month:

Black Book is a deck-building whatever, so I’m in; Per Aspera is another Mars building sim; Everhood is an Undertale-esque rhythm game; Calico is cats; Before We Leave and Paradise Lost are probably good for an evening.

Then we have Borderlands 3, which I have mixed feelings about. Loved BL2, bounce on Pre-Sequel after 18 hours, and otherwise feel that the particular sub-genre the franchise belongs to has been supplanted. Seriously, I’m not sure how you can play a looter-shooter with bullet-sponge bosses anymore without, you know, a dodge-roll or something. Does BL3 have dodges? If not, I’m going to struggle a bit. And that’s besides the logistical point that the game has two Season Passes worth of DLC on top. Some people have mentioned that there isn’t a “complete the bundle” option for BL3 on Steam, so it might end up being more expensive buying it via Humble and then buying the DLC.

Then again, what use would DLC be if I never make it through the base game?

Anyway. I have until the end of the month to waffle on whether Humble deserves my $12. This is certainly an improvement on the last two years of offerings, but time will tell how they follow up. Or if they can follow up, given how much goodwill they burned up to this point between the multiple tier nonsense, the poor game bundles, and pulling the rug from out under legacy subscribers.