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Despite Backlash, Humble Bundle's Donation Limit Returns

The newly announced slider changes will be more generous

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Humble Bundle was founded as a startup in 2010 and is now owned by IGN.
Image: Humble Bundle

Earlier this year, Humble Bundle came under fire for announcing it would begin limiting the amount of people’s purchases that would go toward charity and temporarily reversed course. Today, the company announced it will begin rolling out caps on donations that are more generous but still prevent customers from sending all of the money they spend on Humble Bundles directly to charity, as had been an option for the company’s entire 10-year history.

“In mid-July, we’ll be rolling out a new iteration of sliders that creates even more opportunities to support important causes,” a new blog post published today read. “While splits on each bundle will vary, on average there will be a minimum amount for Humble Bundle between 15-30%.” While the company says the new sliders will be transparent about the amount of each customer purchase that has to be paid directly to Humble Bundle, the option to donate 100% to charity will be gone.

Humble Bundle says the new splits are due to changes in “the PC storefront landscape,” and that taking a greater share of each bundle’s proceeds will allow the company to “continue to invest in more exciting content so we can keep growing the Humble community which will ultimately drive more donations for charitable causes.” It’s not immediately clear how that math will work.

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“Operational costs, such as the cost of acquiring content, have risen dramatically,” Humble Bundle boss Alan Patmore told Kotaku over email. He said the company does not share detailed financial data, but that it had raised $30 million for 224 charities in 2020.

Humble Bundle became famous for packaging together groups of indie games and selling them at a discount in pay-what-you-want bundles that contributed to charitable causes. It has since branched out into selling other media, including ebooks, as well game publishing and a monthly subscription program called Humble Choice, in which people choose a handful of games to download each month for a flat rate. The company was bought by IGN in 2017, with co-founders Jeff Rosen and John Graham eventually departing in 2019.

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Humble Bundle first began testing its controversial slider changes back in April. The sliders to give more money to charity were turned off for some users but not all. In May, the company announced it planned to get rid of the sliders permanently for everyone, capping charitable donations at a max of 15%.

After an outpouring of criticism online from customers and various indie developers, Humble Bundle reversed course. “The right call. Pleased to see this rolled back,” Thomas Was Alone creator, Mike Bithell, tweeted at the time.

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According to one source with knowledge of the rollout, even some people within Humble Bundle were caught off guard and unhappy with the changes.

“We did not initially do a good job socializing the plan: we should have shared the plans more broadly with the team earlier,” Patmore said. “Even in trying to do good/do the right thing, there can be blind spots. We learned a lot and have incorporated better ways of sharing product changes and getting feedback from the team right away. When we reverted the change to the feature, we opened the floor for feedback through our all-hands meetings, 1:1 meetings, and other feedback channels.”

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Humble Bundle had previously said it would spend May and June gathering feedback on the proposed changes. Today’s announcement of a minimum 15-30 percent cut for Humble Bundle of all sales appears to be the result of that process.