Autodesk has launched pay-as-you-go options for its entertainment software products, including 3ds Max, Maya (and the new Maya LT), and its Entertainment Creation Suites.
Softimage is only available for rental as part of the suites, as are Mudbox or MotionBuilder.
How much does it cost?
Software can be rented monthly, quarterly or yearly, with annual rental working out as roughly half the cost of buying outright: $1,840 to rent Max or Maya for a year, as opposed to $3,675 to buy outright, for example.
Quarterly and monthly rental – which costs $195 in the case of Max and Maya – work out more expensive in the long run, with buying outright becoming cheaper than monthly rental after 15 to 19 months.
How does it work?
Like Adobe’s controversial Creative Cloud initiative, rented software resides on the host machine, but needs to connect Autodesk’s licence server at longish, but regular, intervals to continue working.
In Autodesk’s case, software will function in offline mode for 14 days.
But while the pricing isn’t as aggressive as Creative Cloud – Autodesk this week launched a new offer to rent Photoshop for just $9.99 a month – rental isn’t a take-it-or-leave it deal, either.
Whereas Adobe no longer offers perpetual licences of its software, the Autodesk FAQs state: “Rental plans are provided in addition to perpetual licences. Autodesk is committed to providing you the flexibility to choose.”
What are the other conditions?
There are a few other points worth noting. Licensing is per user: unlike a perpetual license, another artist can’t legally hop onto a machine with your rental copy of 3ds Max or Maya when you aren’t using it.
However, that copy moves with you – you can install and run it from multiple locations – although you can only use it worldwide if you buy from your home country.
If you buy from another country or you live in an ‘excluded country’ (there’s a list on Autodesk’s legal page, apparently, although it isn’t obvious where), you’re limited to use in the country of purchase.
Other than that, rental works in pretty much the same way as conventional licensing: you get 30 days to return the software (14 for monthly rental), and the same level of support as for a perpetual license.
However, there’s no upgrade path from a rental plan to a perpetual licence, meaning that having paid money into a rental scheme doesn’t entitle you to a discount if you later decide to buy outright.
User response: cautiously optimistic
Feedback on community forums – historically, fairly scathing of new Autodesk initiatives – has been, if not unequivocally positive, at least cautiously optimistic.
‘Not priced attractively enough for individuals, but useful for studios looking to ramp up at the end of a project,’ seems to be the consensus of threads such as this one on CGTalk.
“Everyone needs to rethink the business model, and Autodesk launching rental plans will really help change the industry. Having scalability … means we can better compete in the modern visual effects industry.”