Why it’s okay to buy the MacHeist bundle

by Milind Alvares

Why it’s okay to buy the MacHeist bundle

by Milind Alvares on March 26, 2009

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There’s a lot of controversy about the latest MacHeist bundle. It’s about undervaluing software products, cheated developers, and the evil hand of Phil Ryu and his money grabbing tactics.

First, let’s talk about the undervaluing of software. Have you visited the App Store lately? If you haven’t, take a look at this game Frenzic. It sells for $4.99, and sometimes even as low as $1.99. It’s a lot of fun, and provides some great entertainment on the go. Now visit the Frenzic for Mac webpage. The price there is $15, it’s not as much fun to play with, but it still sells at a higher price. So what exactly is ‘value’ over here? The developer obviously chooses a price point, trying to make as much money as possible from a single product. The developer can afford to keep a low price, because the App Store can sell tons of copies, while the desktop market on the other hand is slow, and needs a substantial amount per copy to make it worthwhile. That’s software value right there, and MacHeist’s rapid sales provides exactly that for developers.

Next, we have this notion that you’re cheating developers if you buy into the MacHeist bundle. Two years ago, John Gruber did some calculations on how each developer got just 1.5% of the total income generated by MacHeist. That was because they were paid a fixed price for an unlimited number of licenses. This time round however, Ryu has cleared the air and said that devs get a percentage on each sale as well. Granted this won’t be a high percentage (no one knows the specifics), but going by the numbers, the amount should add up to a lot. If a developer ends up with a boot load of cash, how is it that you’re cheating him/her?

Let’s not forget, that a bundle, by the nature of itself, always comes with some things you have no use for. From the top of my head, I could think of so many not using the $300 Kinemac 3D application, playing with those board games for two minutes, and not even attempting to cook with that recipe manager. My point is, you’re really paying for just 4-5 apps on a discount, which amounts to somewhere around 25% of the app’s usual value.

A lot of people have a problem with Phil Ryu making a lot of money. Well why shouldn’t he! If the iShoot guy can make $600k in a month on a single game, why can’t someone who has obviously put a whole lot of effort in making this possible, get a good kick back from it? By him, I mean the entire team that supports him. Organising a bundle takes time and effort, and that effort must be paid off. As long as he doesn’t swindle someone out of their cash, leaving all the specifics on the table upfront, no one has the right to complain.

So before someone tries to put you on a guilt trip about buying the Bundle, know that not only is the developer happy, but that you’re paying what you’re supposed to for the application. If you do find more value in an application than you actually paid for, you could always go out and buy yourself not ‘proper license’, not even a ‘real license’, but a full priced license. Because the MacHeist license is as real as it gets.

Sci-Fi Weblog: What we can learn from MacHeist
Christina Warren: MacHeist Kvetching 2009
Damien Molokai: MacHeist and Me: An Exercise in Excessive Navel-gazing

{ 14 comments… read them below or add one }

Jeff Kozstein

MacHeist must be the prettiest way to scam developers while keeping them happy at the same time. Developers are lured into this with peanuts. The only people profting from this bundle are the Heisters themselves. Developers sell their apps for puny dollars and then have to deal with supporting the hoards of users for free. You must be an idiot to sell your application in a bundle like this. Everyone wins but those actually doing the hard work — the developers. Idiots.



Jeff, you’re an idiot. The devs aren’t getting ripped off. If they were there would have only ever been a MacHeist 1, no 2 or 3.

The simple truth is that nobody wants or needs all of the apps in the bundle. Most people will try most of them, and maybe in the end use 1 or 2 of them regularly. Those people then go on to continue licensing upgrades of that product, which is what the devs are truly after.

The bundle really only serves as an inexpensive way to try software that you normally not consider, or sometimes even hear of. It’s pure marketing on the devs side to include themselves. They’re not getting ripped off at all.



Good points. I think people are carrying over some kind of post-Macheist-1 hate. That was their first bundle, and they’ve learnt that devs need to be treated better. Even the dev of Acorn, who dissed the first one has joined in for this one. Why would he do that if it wasn’t a good deal?



I personally feel that it’s up to the developer to participate so why is everyone so up in arms about it. This isn’t WalMart where they are holding a gun to your head. You are right in that the developers are still being paid and they in turn gain a bucket load of users that will undoubtedly upgrade once the yearly license expires. There’s nothing holding the developers from participating next year either and lets be honest, not every app in these bundles are top sellers on their own. Personally, there’s really only 2-3 apps I want from the bundle and I buy mainly for those two. However, the one thing that seems a little be shady is the whole “donation to charity” thing. I don’t doubt that it’s actually going to charities but it seems like such a tied thing where you’re being led to feel better somehow about your purchases because it’s going to charity. That I don’t agree with – those two things should be separated.

As for the support issue, it leads back to the original point of no one forcing you to sell through the heist. If you can’t live with your business growing quickly, then don’t be in business. This isn’t a socialist country (or continent for that matter) and if you feel you are unable to support your users but still wants the increased sales, then that’s your greed talking.



I’m not gonna buy anything from Macheist. Their website keeps asking people to push up the “Charity money to $400,000″, but charity is only 25% of what they get. The aren’t talking about the rest 75% ! What a scam !

Besides, they hired that assless monkey Chris Pilliro son of a …..



I keep reading all about this controversy
The power of “my purse” is driven by buying “sale” items in every other aspect of my life. I buy my clothes, my cars, and even my groceries based on price as one of the factors. I look for bargains every day. Why should software be excluded from this practice?
MacUpdate, macZot, MacGameStore, Ambrosia and GoodFood all have gotten my money. Even though there are apps in each bundle I will not use or I already own, I do not begrudge their developers getting my money because those that I do use are worth the money. I got a deal.
Take GTD stuff for example. I have several apps in my arsenal that could do the job but buying apps this way allows me to decide which one I want to use regularly. Sometimes I use several apps to complete a task because I like the way each of them add something different to the end result. I like that!
I use rapidweaver (Macupdate Bundle) regularly now but I had no use for it when I purchased it. And I don’t know which website tool I would have chosen if it had not been in my arsenal. I certainly have given the “add on” community for rapidweaver a lot of money they might not have gotten had it been missing from the bundle. And when Realmac wants money for an upgrade, I probably will buy it! IF it is a good deal.
I would not give the majority of the apps in this “bundle” a second look if it were not for MacHeist. I do not need them! But I’d be a fool to pass up this deal and MAYBE I might get around to trying the apps I get.
If you don’t want to participate- so be it but I look forward to the “entire” experience offered at MacHeist and maybe I will find a use for some of the apps, too. AND I look forward to being a part of the “whole” experience (including the missions) next year!
If a developer REALLY wants my money, make me feel like I got a good deal. That way we both win!



Of course, giving no money to charity (like every other purchase we make in our lives) is a much better proposition for the charities. You are, of course, free to give money to charity anytime you like and then you get a tax receipt. Unless you feel that claiming that donation is a scam then throw the receipt away.

I am glad he took the time to build this bundle. The developers are not idiots, they are smarter in many ways than you or I and if they think the bundle is worthwhile then they participate. I am also glad that 25% of the money goes to charity and that the Macheist guy claims the tax benefits . . . good for him. He could charge less, but then the gross amount would give less money back to the developers.

So, lets recap. The developers should not sell their apps in the bundle because they do not get enough money for them. They should wait until we rush to their site and buy a copy, and reduce their price so that we don’t complain they are ripping us off. If they do sell in a bundle they should get all the money and none should go to charity.

Sounds like a recipe for success. Seeing as everyone is so flush with money right now why don’t you throw a bundle together for the developers on your own nickel and solve everyone’s dilemma.



I’ve grown tired of hearing how MacHeist hurts developers. Nobody forced them into it. And some of them probably stand to receive in the range of $10,000 or more dollars in one big chunk (I’m just guessing on the numbers). For some of those developers, that’s a lot of cash for little work – cash they may not have received normally.

Does it increase future sales for them? Maybe, maybe not. But at least they have the cash NOW. I’ve been introduced to several apps and developers that I’ve previously never heard of – I may or may not purchase from them in the future for upgrades or other apps they make. But at least I KNOW OF THEM now.

As far as the charity donations go. I could do without it. I would rather they just give more money to the developers, particularly the ones that supply the freebie apps given away during the actual Heists before the bundle goes on sale. The charity donations are a nice gesture, but I really don’t think anyone makes their purchase decision based on the fact that they donate – they would buy anyway.

The money that Cassasandra, Ryu and the rest of the MH team makes is well deserved. Have you really looked at the MH Web site? The chat room, the forums, the incredibly feature-rich site design used throughout the heists? They’re incredible. Whoever designs & codes it deserves every penny they make. After all, it was their idea, they sweat that went into putting it all together.


Aayush Arya

I’m pretty sure you had me (and maybe others like me) in mind when you wrote that last paragraph. I agree with you and had already come to that decision the moment I’d read on Marco’s blog that the developers were getting percentage based payments this time round.

Instead of writing about it on my blog though, I decided to write about it on Macworld, which takes some time to go through the editing process. I’ve just submitted it now and it should be appearing on the Macworld homepage in an hour or two.

So, yeah, there’s nothing wrong with purchasing the MacHeist bundle and anyone who claims otherwise is either ignorant, misled, or has a score to settle with either John Casasanta or Phil Ryu—or some combination of the above three.

Great article, by the way. Your points about the perceived value of software were excellently put. :)


Brandon S. Adkins

Why discuss this in such length?

The developers CHOOSE to participate and do not do so blindly. It is their CHOICE to be included in the bundle. THIS IS THE BOTTOM LINE. No further discussion needed.

It’s funny that many of you make the developers the victim. The only thing they are a victim of is their own decision making. MacHeist is not at fault.



Who died and left Jeff in charge. His argument is silly since he failed to document how MacHeist got a gun to their head and forced them to sell. Personally, appreciate the efforts of the developers and will now use their work. If it wasn’t for the bundle, I wouldn’t be a customer. Now the developers can ding me for upgrades and everyone wins.

Jeff, why are you the self appointed guardian for the developers? Aren’t they adults?


Neil Anderson

It’s a great way to try out apps for a low price. Even so, none of the five people I forwarded the offer to have bought.


Trygve Inda

It is a heist indeed. Better to just go donate $39 to charity and buy the apps you need directly from the developer.



PS: Nothing against John, Phill and the group… these guys are great marketers, but I think developers (by their own choice of course) are getting the shaft. I don’t know what they are getting exactly but based on $39 ($38 after payment processing)….

$ 9.50 Charity
$18.00 One dollar per app to developers ($2 for the 4 higher-end apps)
$10.50 John, Phill and gang

This means $800K for the gang and $75K for an individual developer. After that $800K is split, John, Phill and Scott probably get $200K each… not bad at all – they put a lot of work into it. But the developers get a bunch of new customers that the money earned will not cover to support. Since most people will use only 1 or 2 of the apps, why not just buy those directly from the developers and focus the money to where it will directly beneifit the product?


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