Humble Bundle, a popular pay-what-you-want site for digital games, found itself in the gaming community’s crosshairs after a controversial decision to cap charitable donations.
Since its 2010 launch, Humble Bundle has featured sliders that allowed customers to decide what percentage of their money would go to charity. In those 11 years, the site has raised a reported $195 million for various charitable causes.
However, in late April 2021, the site announced that it would be removing the sliders in favor of a flat 5% donation, with an option to raise it to 15% - but no higher than that.
The update would have required users to open a separate menu and manually increase the cut for charity.
The move got immediate backlash from the gaming community, which accused Humble Bundle - and IGN, who purchased the company in 2017 - of turning a once-charitable venture into yet another money-making scheme. The outcry was so immediate and intense that, just two weeks later, Humble Bundle changed their minds and turned the sliders back on.
Assuming that the original decision was profit-driven, it seems gamers managed to convince them that reducing their support for charity wouldn’t be profitable after all.
On the one hand, this is a great story about gamers banding together for a good cause. That’s exactly the kind of positivity and community that Sprites and Dice was founded on, and that we love to see in the wider gaming world.
Humble Bundle supports a huge variety of charities - and the gaming community intends to make sure it keeps supporting them.
On the other hand, Humble Bundle’s latest announcement doesn’t make any promises about the future - only that they’ll “...review feedback and consider sliders and the importance of customization for purchases on bundle pages in the long term.” The announcement goes on to say that they’ll consider different ways to work charity into the user experience.
In other words, the charity sliders are back for now, but there’s no guarantee that they’re here to stay. In fact, it seems like Humble Bundle is still looking for ways to get rid of them - whether they’ll replace the sliders with a different customization option, or with a fixed split like they rolled out in April, remains unclear.
However, the one thing that Humble Bundle has committed to is increased transparency. The team has pledged to share their plans ahead of time from now on, and to take community feedback before rolling out major changes.
Hopefully, the combination of transparency from the site and pressure from the community will keep the charitable donations flowing.