The Humble Origin Bundle: Good for gamers, good for charity, really good for EA

4 Posted by - August 19, 2013 - Engagement Activities, News, Opinion

Remember how Electronic Arts is supposedly the most evil company in the world?

EA partnered up with the Humble Bundle team and launched the first Humble Origin Bundle on August 14. The list of games on offer is pretty serious stuff. Gamers can pick up Dead Space, Dead Space 3, Crysis 2 Maximum Edition, Burnout Paradise: The Ultimate Box, Mirror’s Edge, and the 2010 reboot of Medal of Honor for whatever price they care to pay.

And those who pay more than the $4.82 average get two more top-rated games to add to their collection: The Sims 3 Starter Pack and Battlefield 3.

A portion of those proceeds will spread across five charities: the Human Rights Campaign, the American Cancer Society, the American Red Cross, the San Francisco AIDS Foundation, and watsi, a global funding platform for medical treatments.

Well over 1.3 million people took the deal in the first three days alone. Over $7 million has gone to those charities so far.

While this is indisputably a fantastic opportunity for gamers, and it benefits multiple worthy causes, Electronic Arts also gets something important for their trouble: subscribers.

The Humble Origin Bundle is exactly that: A package deal of games available on the unpopular and long-suffering Origin streaming game service. In several cases, the games on offer are Origin exclusives and not available on rival services like Steam. Anyone who buys and downloads the package must download and install the Origin client to play the games.

It’s impossible to know how many of Origin’s 40 million users jumped on this deal, but more than likely a significant number are first-time signups.

In just a few days, Origin may have added hundreds of thousands of new users. That number might stretch into the millions before the sale ends. It’s tough to imagine Origin picking up so many new people in so short a time under normal circumstances, and equally tough to see the much-publicized Steam Sales bringing in fresh customers in comparable droves.

Does it seem opportunistic? Possibly, but no more opportunistic than a player snatching up $250 worth of games for roughly $5. In truth, Electronic Arts and Origin — which is under new management — have found a very clever way to capitalize on the “community as a service” ethos. They’ve offered up something gamers want, and gamers are rewarding them for it in turn…and kicking a few bucks over to some charities at the same time.

Meanwhile, Origin gains new customers looking at their interface instead of Steam’s, where they might buy something else in future. That’s not evil. It’s business. The smart kind, where everybody wins.

The Humble Origin Bundle runs through August 28.