So, in today's inbox:
"With our move to subscription, one thing has become clear to us—managing two business models (subscriptions and maintenance plans) is quite costly. To continue supporting maintenance, beginning May 7, 2017, renewal prices will increase by 5% in 2017, 10% in 2018, and 20% in 2019. Also, you should be aware that maintenance plans can now only be renewed for one year at a time. Now that we’ve shared the direction we’re heading, we’d like to talk to you about a special offer to help you join us on the path toward subscription—one that recognizes your loyalty and the value of your previous investments."
This is the sort of thing I have come to expect from AD, and does break my previously stated hope. I find that the "cost" associated with maintaining two business models is **so** disingenuous. The difference between non-permanent and permanent licenses in software is next to nothing.... the delivery mechanism is the same, minor difference in the license lookup rate. Otherwise, it's just a billing mechanism that I can't see requiring anything more than a few electrons now and again. The only thing I can see is that it leaves irritating free range licenses that can live without being connected to the hive mind.
It's obviously an attempt yank permanent licenses away from those of us that have a decade's old suspicion of the behemoth that is Autodesk, and be able to have more granular control over its users and cash conveyor.
Now I understand that AD has offered "discounted" rates to offset these "necessary" cost increases. It's a cost curve opposite stated above, because, hey, doesn't that look great! Save for the fact there is no guarantee that those prices will hold thereafter. Long thinking, but devious at best. Because, after all, once we're all on subscription, we're hostage to whatever cost increases you might want to inflict. And I have little doubt that after 2019, there will be an effort to just pull the plug on permanent licenses regardless.
I'm undecided as to how I'll roll on this, and just as I was about to decide on getting Fusion or Inventor. Business is business, those damned customers just interfere with profits.
@stop.waiting No problem at all.
"Beginning June 2017, you’ll be able to move your products on a maintenance plan to a subscription for up to 60% less than the cost of a new subscription. This discount will decrease by 5% in 2018 and another 5% in 2019, so the earlier you switch to a subscription, the less it will cost—and the more you’ll save compared to those who wait to move, or choose to stay on maintenance. When you make the switch, you’ll also be able to
lock in your discounted price for up to three years and continue to receive discounted pricing for as long as you renew."
Note, I don't believe the "discounted pricing as long as you renew"... would have to see the legalese with a lawyer to know if there are loopholes hidden.
I got this email too today and here are my thoughts:
First off, to make things very clear, from a user point-of-view, there is zero advantage to moving from maintenance to subscription.
Prices for maintenance, new licences and subscriptions vary from territory to territory, so it's hard to do the maths for everyone. But for me, the price of a yearly new subscription would be €1,600, which is more than twice what I will be paying to renew my maintenance plan for a year.
What do I get in both situation?
Maintenance plan: Permanent license of 3ds Max 2018; basic support; all updates and patches for a year.
Subscription: The right to use 3ds Max 2018 for a year, after which it will become non-functional; basic support; all updates and patches for a year.
So here's the proposition: You can either buy a new car, use it for as long as you want, and even resell it on the second-hand market when you no longer need it.
For twice the money, you can rent the same car and use it for a year, after which you can either give it back or pay the same amount again to rent it for another year.
Even Autodesk doesn't deny this. In today's email, it lists the advantages of subscriptions as follows: 1. Latest and greatest product capabilities; 2. Access to new industry collections; 3. New and improved support; 4. Simplified administration. Number 1 is not an advantage since it's also provided by the maintenance plan (despite the wide-spread misunderstanding among financial analysts that it isn't). Number 2 is hardly an advantage (you can spend even more money to get more products); I'll leave number 3 to your consideration as all of us have had our experiences with Autodesk support (3ds Max 2017 never worked for me); and number 4 means nothing to me since my administration of 3ds Max is extremely simple: Remember to contact your reseller once year to renew.
Of course, the economics will vary slightly, especially considering the steep announced price hikes for maintenance and the deep discounts for subscription. But even if maintenance and subscription were to cost the same, subscriptions would always remain an inferior proposition by virtue of the fact that you no longer have the possibility to use the software if you stop paying.
Even if you were to consider switching from maintenance to subscription because of the substantial short-term discounts, you may want to reconsider after realizing that these discounts are only available if you agree to give Autodesk the car back that you bought from them a while back. This is from the FAQ that came with today's email:
Upon the commencement of your subscription date, you will no longer be able to continue using your perpetual license as the option to switch to subscription at this significant discount is conditional upon trading in your perpetual license/s on a maintenance plan for a new subscription.
This is called burning your bridges. It basically guarantees that anyone who moves from maintenance to subscription can never go back. From an economic point of view, this is of course nonsensical: Why would anyone give away a very valuable, gold-plated permanent license for a more expensive, vastly inferior rental car?
Of course, if you're an investor in Autodesk, things look very different. The reason the move is a terrible deal for customers is the same reason why it's a terrific one for investors, at least on paper.
With the move to subscription, you get: 1. A captive user base; 2. The guarantee that this user base will keep paying in the future whatever the product you offer them because not doing so would destroy their past investment (in economics term, this is what is called a "rent"--behavior that is normally frowned upon); 3. Vastly increased pricing power since you can jack up the price of subscription knowing that users will find it impossible to leave.
In practice, however, the move from permanent licenses to subscription has been pretty painful for Autodesk. In retrospect, this is not surprising given the economics of the options offered to customers. The company has not only seen revenues fall almost every quarter since it scrapped new permanent licences, it has also made losses every single quarter since (the latest quarterly results are actually due today, which probably explains the timing of the email). Still, Autodesk's share price has been on fire for about a year as investors remain hopeful that Autodesk will eventually manage to coerce or entice all recalcitrant users into switching to subscriptions.
Illustrating this hope, an analyst was recently quoted as follows in a Barron's article:
"The company has indicated it will raise maintenance prices in tranches over the next few years in an effort to entice customers to move to subscription (1.25-1.50x increase in LTV). At the analyst day in December, management put a finer point on this, announcing virtually all Maintenance customers are expected to be converted to Subscription by FY20. Any acceleration of that timeframe would be a positive for shares."
For the company, the question is therefore: Is Autodesk's market position dominant enough that it can persuade users to switch from a model to a financially and functionally inferior one? Maybe it is, maybe it isn't. The fact that so many users have switched to subscriptions despite there being no good economic incentive to do so suggests Autodesk's hold on its key markets may be sufficiently dominant. The sheer discontent with Autodesk's products that is vented everyday on this forum and the fact that most of these irate users (me included) still choose to stick to the company nonetheless is another suggestion that many don't have a choice or are just not ready to disrupt their workflows or business models.
In any case, Autodesk doesn't need to move its entire user base. It just needs a critical mass, after which it can use its beefed-up pricing power to squeeze more profits out of its captive subscription customers.
Not every company in every market can do that, of course. If Nvidia could switch from selling graphic cards to renting them out for a year (at twice the price of a new card), it would certainly do so. But it can't because it is locked into fierce competition with AMD. So instead, it decided to price its latest gaming card at a fraction of the expected price this week in a bid to pull the rug from under AMD's feet. This is why competition is such a great thing for us users.
Now, I can't tell you what you should do because individual circumstances will vary, but here's what I did in the past: When Adobe switched from permanent licenses to subscriptions, I considered my options and decided to purchase the last available permanent license (the entire Creative Suite 6.0). As I expected, I'm still using it today and it's great. None of the innovations brought by Adobe's updates since then would be of any use to me. I figured that owning CS6.0 would buy me enough time to see either Adobe change its mind on permanent licenses or for a better alternative to emerge. The first hasn't happened, but the second has. Recently, I bought a permanent license of Affinity Photo that does everything Photoshop does and a lot more, and gives me access to all these third-party plugins that are no longer being developed for CS6.0. I couldn't be happier.
As for now, I will renew my Autodesk maintenance plan before the price increase kicks in. Hell, I may even renew it for several years to lock in the lower price. After that, I will wait for Autodesk to change its mind or for a better alternative to emerge. And even if none of this happens and I still find myself wedded to 3ds Max three or four years from now, I can always switch to subscriptions then and I will still have saved a big bundle of cash. It's what you call a no-brainer.
Great and well elaborated, Bertrand. Thanks for posting this
I will act the same as you described in your post - my maintenance plan runs out in summer 2018, and maybe i'll renew then - maybe not. Depending on the focus of my work then and the level i reached going completely away giving money to Autodesk for new purchases. I'll certainly will NOT buy into rental/cloud subscription exactly because of the points you have written above.
Got this email this morning too. Just checking the autodesk website, in the UK 1 year subscription is £1818. more than 3 times the yearly maintenance cost. Bertrand made a good point about buying CS6, by playing the long game, apps like Affinity Photo and Natron have appeared, so compositing on cheaper/ open source programs is now an option. At the very least 1 more year maintenance to try other programs like Cinema4D and Houdini(now that Vray is going to be an option). I'm still hoping at some point they realise they're idiots and change their pricing/ policy.
When someone with the caliber of Bertrand comes to vent his frustration towards a COMPANY rather than the software he's using, the problem is starting to get personal. You might not like a version of a software, a persistent bug, a bad implemented or immature feature - but you know that those can change over versions. Bugs (eventually) get addressed, features get polished, and new workflows implemented.
But a company policy... that's hard to change. Takes way more than a development cycle, and involves money. Lots of it.
Autodesk keeps making it harder and harder for me to remain as a paying customer. I surely do not hate or wanna see the rental model vanish. Not at all. I just want to have the option, we ALWAYS had, to remain as a paying customer with my permanent license. Either that, or make rental as cheap as Adobe is doing (respecting the due proportions), with access to all (or a large portion of) your software catalog.
Be wary that just as Affinity is eating away chunks of the gigantic Photoshop userbase, other companies will definitely see this as an opportunity to reach for unhappy Autodesk's users. And when someone with the reach and strong voice on the community as Bertrand Bernoir comes to say what he said, all the red lights should be triggered.
The community made your software, ADSK. And this same community can undo it. It's truly in your hands.
@bertrandbenoit Extremely well said.
Last night, I ran the numbers. I own the entertainment collection, so my costs will obviously be higher. For consideration given that caveat, for the next three years;
$11340 - If I were to go month to month as a new user (1).
$4766.58 - If I were to go month to month with my "discount" (2)
$4791.50 - If I were to go to 3 year as a new user (3)
$2535 - If I were to go 3 year with my "discount" (4)
$3914.16 - If I suffer the punitive increases in subscription costs (5)
~$1968 - If I suffer the punitive increases, except I buy three years of sub now (6) (Based on last year's cost, TBD if this will be allowed.)
So, if I have to pay up now, it's still financially advantageous to go with (6) over the next three years, because not only will I have exactly the same experience between now and then, but I'll still have a permanent license... and have the opportunity to tell my reseller (who is AD) to stuff it thereafter. These are obviously raw $, and do not consider the inherent value of being able to stop paying, but keep using. What happens in 2020, though is a big question. I do expect that AD will eventually phase out the permanent licenses; once they have that critical mass, they will almost certainly start increasing the cloud costs until whatever amount the shareholders think they can wring out of us users.
I've been toying with changing businesses for a while, and/or core software. I've said as much on this board several times before, and each time my subscription comes around, the drum beat gets stronger. If I felt like a valued user, rather than a mark, it might be different. If I felt that my continued investment in the software had genuine value that added to my ability to make proportionately more, it might be different.
I can't help but wonder if Carl Bass' departure from AD is related to this (the articles I've read suggest it certainly is, investment rodentia making the call). I'd stated in a previous thread that I felt his leadership and direction was making a real impact to change my overall opinion of the corporation; to the extent that I was looking to expand my AD portfolio. Three weeks after he leaves, AD reopens the depths of its corporate evil, and old burns have started to throb. Big companies with relative monopolies generally have three choices: adapt, and offer new and genuinely good offerings that bring in more revenue, acquire companies that provide that (but already have near saturated user bases) or increase their prices punitively. AD tried the middle one, and had some success, but it's running out of companies to buy. The problem with the last one is that it is diminishing returns: it will work, to a point. Eventually, you price yourself out of the market, either because competitors come up to fill the void, or you put your users out of business.
To serve the Adobe comparison that Bertrand made, I am on the Adobe CC program. I'd previously owned the master collection, and I didn't 'bite' on the promotional offers, either. In fact, I still own my MC license, because I registered onto CC as a new user later. I did so because I felt that CC provided me value, and the cost wasn't exorbitant. The price point for ALL users (i.e w/o discounts) is less than what my annual fee would have been to keep MC current under the old paradigm. So while the costs have edged up over time, I do not feel that it's onerous, and I have my old permanent license to fall back on if it were to come to that, though I don't expect it would.
Since I posted, I've been looking seriously at the competition. Modo is looking pretty good, especially since VRay will run therein, and I'll be taking a test drive of that this weekend.
Not had that e-mail yet,
Most of the people/companies I work with are on old versions (2013 seems to be the most common), and I'm never going to downgrade my perpetual licence into a rental.
I'd suggest AD reaching out to old users and getting them back onto perpetual licences, but they seem hell-bent on alienating their customers.
Their mantra of 'simplifying' is insulting - to Autodesk, choice is the worst thing they could offer.
I'll cling on to my last perpetual licence - C4D is looking like it's mopping up AD users in the broadcast world.
Ah well, have fun with your shareholders Autodesk. Let's see how much they love you when it all goes kaput.
@phloog I can't say I'm really surprised at all of this. Nevertheless, I hoped it wouldn't actually happen. I agree that no one in their right minds would buy a permanent plugin license for a rental software; but there are some plugin companies that are trying to hop on the rental bandwagon. I can only imagine that Chaos and others might consider it.
I think that if AD were to actually kill the existing perpetual licenses, they'd end up with a massive class action lawsuit - not allowing activation defacto violates the word "perpetual". However, our having a perpetual license does not mean AD would have to release new versions/updates for it. So, conceivably, 2020 will be the last year that you'll be able to use the latest and greatest. Though, as is often mused, latest and greatest is often equivalent to incremental improvement and fresh batch of bugs.
As I continue to look the more I realize that my time investment in max matters much less than it once did. Everyone else seems to have matured very well, while the Autodesk suite has done little.
One thing that everyone should take note of, that I found out yesterday, is that the license terms specify that if you install a current version, you no longer have a license to the old version 120 days after the fact. Which means if you have to access old files in an older version of max (due to plugins, changes in max itself), you are effectively violating the terms. That's even better in the 'cloud' paradigm where you simply can not install an older version. Planned obsolescence that can outright screw the users in some cases.
Thankfully Vlado is vocally anti-subscription only.
The annoying thing is, we want rental licensing for when we have to staff up and down, but we want to keep perpetual as well! The next recession that comes along will kill lots of small VFX houses or people will be forced to look at free/perpetual alternatives. A few months with no work and people won't be able to afford all these subscription costs. Stop paying, stop being able to use your software. In 2007/8 we stayed on Max 9 for years whilst things got better and then we moved to maintenance licensing.
At the moment we are still running on Max 2016 and currently we have no plans to update, especially with the viewport team for 3dsmax being non-existent and way too much of the development budget going on implementing a feature that we're never going to use (Arnold).
@DaveWortley not entirely true. Arnold might not fall into the workflow you or your company do *now* but might very well be inserted in the pipe along the way. And regarding the development budget, we can't possibly have the correct idea of how much was spent on it in detriment of other areas. I know big houses which are using Max2017 on a daily basis delivering content for film and series without any problems (and would not want to get back to 2016). I had my own share of problems, Bertrand has had his share, some are related to Max, some to windows10, some to NVidia cards... Anniversary update really messed some stuff here in my workstation.
Please, do not get me wrong! I too want to see other areas as the focus of Max dev, and other people will have another priorities, but the main problem ISN'T Max in this particular case, but the mothership which is making harder and harder to remain a customer of their products.
Ex-SOFTIMAGE pioneer here.
I had worked with SOFTIMAGE since 1992 and my studio was running 8 seats finally and we developed a lot of tools around our rock solid pipeline. When AD bought SOFTIMAGE we were shocked and our reseller tried to calm us down that this is a good thing. Five years later the reality hit us hard as expected: SOFTIMAGE is dead. It all was planned from day one. This information I got from a "whistleblower".
What was the conclusion for us? Maybe MAX will be next? This company has no spirit of a real developer. This company is ruled by cost controllers giving a sh*t about their clients at the end. AD shot their best horse in front of the SOFTIMAGE generation. A bunch of real pioneers and well known studios. And they tried to sell us the lame horse after that: MAYA. Reallly funny ... NOT! Because this is not a hobby. It's a serious business. I took 5 MAYA seats for free just for the fun NOT to install them.
It's sad to see that many people really switched to annyoing MAYA instead of doing the only right thing: ignore AD. Because they will do it again and again and again ...
We knew that we can work with SOFTIMAGE and Redshift for a couple of years ... in theory. But we have to switch. And from my position as a CEO I will avoid to use any kind of Autodick-products anymore. They gave me a real headache, it cost me years of development, money and we're still looking for a replacement of SOFTIMAGE.
But we should be realistic. What Adobe started will be the future of any kind of commercial software: login-logout-login-logout...subscription. From a business pov I can understand this. It's monthly cash-flow and you force the customers to keep it running because quitting and stay with the actual version is no option anymore.
The problem I see here is that this model also allows to collect data like who logged in on what machine at what time. And after a time they can simply hit the blackmail button: we raise the monthly fee and you have to eat this. This is another point why I don't support this in a globalized market where budgets will not really raise.
So what is the solution? We were looking into MODO and to be honest: since worldwide operation "NUKE" by TF against nearly all customers and selling TF after this for GBP 200 mil this investor driven company is also no option for us anymore. What I heard of many people had killed the trust into this company. We think that HOUDINI is great but unfortunately too expensive for a small studio. Because we would need 4 seats here minimum.
Finally we took a closer look into Blender. Well, my people did. I was a bit confused but after testing it for two weeks personally I am surprised. Really surprised. We have now finsihed three projects here. No license struggle. No crashes. Everything was reliable and solid. Just copy a 100 MB folder and that's it. Blender.org offers daily builds. They react fast on bug-reports and behind the short-cut based GUI-curtain is a really powerful tool with a modern renderer where you can even mix GPU and CPU rendering on one machine. Not to mention a very good 3d camera tracker, a node based compositor and and and. It looks like that Blender has become a serious competitor. I ever start to believe that the GUI is nice. It's fully customizable and unbreakable.
It's really crazy: they deliver a kind of support and service I just experienced in the old SOFTIMAGE days. This will motivate me to donate a part of a projects budget to them.
Finally it's all about to be able to escape from the routine and adapt to something new. Sure. It depends what you are doing and in what industry you are working. That's the advantage of AD because they know that Blender skills will not help people to get a MAYA job. I know it's not easy but finally for the casual work all tools deliver the same standards. And fortunately as a studio owner I am independend to decide.
My 2 cent.
Bumped into this thread today and thought to give you all a heads up that yesterday's announcement from Autodesk extends beyond 3ds Max to their other product lines. It is on view in the following forum that first went live yesterday:
You might want to add your concerns to that forum as well. An Autodesk rep actually responded to a couple of posts, suggesting they are at least monitoring the discussion(s) there.
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