I recently read a blog post lamenting the end of indie game development on Android. It seems that as Android continues growing as a platform and attracts bigger, professional game developers, there is some concern among indie game developers that they will be unable to compete. Two of the problems cited in the blog post are competition and discovery. With the removal of the “Just In” category, indie developers lost what may be their biggest avenue for discovery. When a Google employee was asked what indie developers can do to compete, he replied, “Try to publish through one of the big game publishers.”
Indie game developers on PC face the same problem. Even with distribution platforms like Steam, how do indie developers compete with major game developers and publishers? One phenomenon that has taken indie gaming by storm are the indie game bundles. Pioneered by Humble Bundle, indie game bundles give you a selection of indie games and let you pay what you want. Initially, these indie bundles were available only on PC, and on PC distribution platforms like Desura and Steam. However, more recently, some of these bundles have also made appearances on Android.
Indie game bundles help solve the problems highlighted by the previously mentioned blog post: competition and discovery. By putting together several indie games and letting users pay what they want, indie game bundles can compete with bigger game developers and publishers on value and quality. Highlighting several indie game titles in each bundle also helps users discover new games and developers they may not have noticed. With the spread of indie game bundles to Android, developers can take advantage of the huge PC gaming base and introduce PC gamers to their Android titles, helping them gain notoriety as indie Android developers. With the latest round of indie Android bundles, I believe indie game developers have found a venue to compete with more prominent developers, a venue which has already proven successful on PC.
To date, both Indie Gala and Humble Bundle have released Android bundles. Indie Gala has released two Indie Gala Mobile bundles, while Humble Bundle has released three Humble Bundles for Android, and Humble Bundle for Android 3 is currently active. I have bought all five bundles, and the selection of games are always of the highest quality. The bundle that interests me most at the moment ins the Humble Bundle for Android, and it’s not for the selection of games.
Humble Bundle has been testing a beta version of its Humble Bundle app for Android. You can download the Humble Bundle app if you have purchased a bundle by going to the page for your bundle and clicking “Try the Humble Bundle Android app (beta)”. In earlier releases, the Humble Bundle Android app required you to validate it through the Humble Bundle website. The app gave you a verification code, you entered that code in the Humble Bundle page for an Android bundle, and the app would be verified and allow you to download .apk’s for your games. However, in Humble Bundle for Android 3, a significant release that was not noticed by most mobile and gaming blogs was an update to the Humble Bundle Android app.
The latest update to the Humble Bundle Android app features the ability to link your Humble Bundle account. On the Humble Bundle website, you can create a Humble Bundle account, which will let you purchase bundles more conveniently and organizes all the bundles you have ever purchased on a single page for convenient access. This convenience has also extended to the Humble Bundle Android app. Once you have linked your Humble Bundle account, all your Humble Bundle for Android games will be available to download directly from the app. The latest update has also added a download manager to the app, so you can download, install, and launch games all directly from the app. This makes it MUCH more convenient to buy Humble Bundles. Similar to how you can activate all your Humble Bundle games on Steam with one code (two for the beat the average bonuses), now you can download all your Humble Bundle games on Android with one login. Since you don’t download these games from Google Play, the Humble Bundle Android app will also notify you whenever an update is available to any of your bundle games.
With the latest update to the Humble Bundle Android app, I believe Humble Bundle has positioned itself to become one of the premiere indie game discovery tools on Android. The only thing missing right now is allowing you to buy bundles directly from the app. With that feature, it will turn into a mini-app store, like the Amazon App Store on non-Kindle Fire devices, but exclusively for indie games. I have spoken to an Indie Gala representative, and they have also indicated they have their own Android app in development to distribute Indie Gala Mobile bundles. With Humble Bundle and Indie Gala blazing the way, you can be sure other indie bundles like Indie Royale will quickly follow suit. The rise of Android indie bundles will serve to provide a great boost to indie gaming on Android, solving discovery problems that Google has been unable to solve on Google Play and giving indie game developers a real chance to compete on Android. The rise of Android indie bundles promises to be a great development to save indie game development on an increasingly competitive Android gaming market, and to continue delivering high quality games to our phones and tablets.