For those that think there is no real money in Pay What You Want (PWYW) pricing, the growing success of the Humble Indie Bundle suggests otherwise. Their first four promotions have raised over $6.1MM,** with the last one just ending at $2.2MM.** It has been reported that the venture behind these offers has raised $4.7MM in VC funding. Their model includes payments to the game developers, the distributor, and charities including EFF.*
EFF has posted a nice summary, observing that "While the record labels, movie studios, and video game producers have not figured out a way to compete with free, others have...as the Humble Bundle has shown us, it is possible, with creators and distributors finding new and exciting ways to compete with free. ... when done right – developers, content providers, and even those who provide the business model can successfully compete with free." Additional details are in a Wikipedia entry.
All of this adds to my suggestion that FairPay (which augments PWYW with feedback processes that incentivise buyers to be fair to sellers, as described on the sidebar) can take this from a promotional tool to a mainstream business model for ongoing use. Indie games and music are a great place to start, since that Long Tail content is where basic PWYW selling is already gaining traction.***
My previous post, How Indies Can Disrupt the Disruptor - A Disruptive Revenue Model for Music and Games, addresses this in more detail -- suggesting how indie distributors can take on iTunes to change the game, starting with the Long Tail, and moving toward the mainstream.
(*The charitable element is also a notable factor in the Humble Indie Bundle, at two levels. One is true charity, in the form of EFF and others. The other is a charity-like feature, in that the structure of the Humble Bundle revenue is for lightweight (and buyer controllable) contributions to the distributor, such that the significant share to the game creator ("developer"), analogous to the artist, musician, etc., provides a social-benefit motivation to pay -- rewarding the creator, and enabling further creation. See other charity-related posts.)
**[1/14/12: Wikipedia on Humble Indie Bundle reports this now as 8 bundles for a total of $11MM. Check there for further updates.]
***[1/17/12: For general insight into real uses and experiments see "Pay What You Want -- Still Crazy After All These Years?," and Wikipedia on PWYW.]