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Autodesk to go subscription-only by 2016

Friday, October 3rd, 2014 | Posted by Jim Thacker

141003_AutodeskLicences2
 
A slide from Autodesk’s Investor Day presentation. The company announced that it plans to phase out perpetual software licences over the next 12-24 months, leaving subscriptions as the only way to buy its products.

Autodesk plans to phase out perpetual licences of all its software products over the next two years, leaving maintenance and desktop subscriptions as the only way to buy its products.

The announcement was made during Autodesk’s annual Investor Day, and follows comments made by CEO Carl Bass in an conference call earlier this year that the company was “seriously considering” the move.

Perpetual licences phased out over the next 12-24 months
During his presentation, Autodesk SVP of industry strategy and marketing Andrew Anagnost noted that the company intended to target the 2.9 million customers who use versions of its products one to five years old.

“These are not pirates … these are real customers. They just happen to purchase from us perpetual licences on an infrequent basis, because they can,” he said. “This really isn’t good for our ecosystem.”

“We not only believe [subscription] is the right thing for our business, we believe it’s the right thing for our customers,” Anagnost continued. “Not only does this provide the lowest-cost access to the offerings our customers have ever seen, it also provides a superior experience. Because we believe in this so much, over the next 12 to 24 months, we’re going to stop selling perpetual licences.”

The withdrawal of perpetual licences will be phased in by geographical region and by product, with Anagnost identifying AutoCAD LT as the company’s initial focus.

Do the numbers add up?
For Autodesk, the business case is pretty clear. Anagnost noted that AutoCAD LT customers on subscriptions generate an average of $310/year for the company, compared to $240/year for those on perpetual licences.

Whether the business case is so clear for the end user depends on how frequently you need the new features that Autodesk’s annual releases bring.

For example, at time of writing, the SRP of an annual subscription to Maya is $1,470, versus $3,675 for a perpetual licence, so if you only need every third version, it’s cheaper to buy outright.

Most large studios fall into the ‘more often than three years’ camp; many small studios and freelancers do not.

New subscription incentives
The exact economics may change in future: Anagnost noted that Autodesk intends to bring in new subscription packages, such as ‘buy three years, pay annually’, which may reduce the cost for committed users.

Autodesk also intends to introduce “exclusive support for desktop subscriptions”, described by Anagnost as “things that help customers get up to speed with the software”.

Dividing opinion
New payment plans and support options seem unlikely to appease opponents of subscriptions, many of whom feel that Autodesk is maximising its profits at the expense of customer choice.

However, for many users, the numbers clearly do add up: Autodesk reported record revenues for the last financial quarter, driven in part by 74,000 new maintenance, desktop and cloud subscriptions.

Listen to a recording of Autodesk’s Investor Day presentations
(Registration required: the relevant section starts around 00:10:00)

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15 responses to “Autodesk to go subscription-only by 2016”

  1. billpayer4000 said:

    in another thread, artists plan to ‘phase out’ Autodesk

    2:33 pm on Friday, October 3, 2014

  2. jin choung said:

    ““These are not pirates … these are real customers. They just happen to purchase from us perpetual licences on an infrequent basis, because they can,”

    wow… really? that’s pretty damn tone deaf.

    and if that’s what they do, THAT’S all they need. goddamn, people need to start getting lessons in commerce. we don’t give a rat’s ass what’s in it for YOU. we KNOW what’s in it for you.

    but you have completely nullified the WHAT’S IN IT FOR ME part of the equation.

    this is microsoft got burned with their xbox plans… and looks like autodesk is sailing gleefully into the same waters.

    so tone deaf.

    3:41 pm on Friday, October 3, 2014

  3. Mellow_Butch said:

    This sucks in an already bad economy in the US for CG and it seems like every creative tool company is banning together against independent content creators as well as small and medium sized groups. I imagine there will even be some large groups that will be hit by this when it becomes mandatory that they keep every seat updated all year every year. I wonder if Autodesk is making AutoCAD, Inventor etc. subscription only?

    2:17 pm on Wednesday, October 8, 2014

  4. quaid oralious said:

    it is how the company wont sink. their product is stolen like mad. companies need to profit large to keep their dev teams afloat. stop b!tching people, this is evolution

    10:26 pm on Thursday, January 8, 2015

  5. VSG said:

    Adobe does this, why can’t auto desk?

    5:40 pm on Saturday, January 17, 2015

  6. Tgirgis said:

    I don’t see it as an issue if they just do a lower $/User/Mo. system, that’s what adobe does and it works beautifully

    I don’t see the purpose of spending more to maintain both Maya and Maya LT, just to charge two seperate prices while simulateneously allowing competitors like Blender and Modo to eat at their market share. Even if Autodesk will always be #1, there’s no reason not to get more users if you can make more money on it

    3:36 pm on Tuesday, January 27, 2015

  7. THW said:

    Well, I for one switched (back) to CorelDRAW after some 15 years of using Adobe products, the last version of which was three copies of CS6 Master Collection because I don’t want a monthly payment. I like to buy the software once and own it. I know a lot of people think like me. I currently am testing TurboCAD Platinum and CorelCAD for the same reasons. I guess we shall see if their model works out for them. The subscription service makes sense if you don’t already have $2,500 per license into a product, but is a total slap in the face to a guy like me who could get upgrades for $800 or so, about a year’s worth of subscriptions. Just another way for Adobe to gouge their customers. I will not support them.

    9:33 pm on Saturday, February 7, 2015

  8. THW said:

    Well, I for one switched (back) to CorelDRAW after some 15 years of using Adobe products, the last version of which was three copies of CS6 Master Collection because I don’t want a monthly payment. I like to buy the software once and own it. I know a lot of people think like me. I currently am testing TurboCAD Platinum and CorelCAD for the same reasons. I guess we shall see if their model works out for them. The subscription service makes sense if you don’t already have $2,500 per license into a product, but is a total slap in the face to a guy like me who could get upgrades for $800 or so, about a year’s worth of subscriptions. Just another way for Adobe to gouge their customers. I will not support them. I think in the end they will probably start offering both.

    9:34 pm on Saturday, February 7, 2015

  9. Tgirgis said:

    I see what you’re saying, but I must disagree on the “gouge” part. Creative Cloud is $49/user/mo for access to ALL of their major applications, and for those who need a single application (i.e. just photoshop) can pay $19/user/mo

    Autodesk’s current prices are just unrealistic for a large and rapidly growing segment of the market – from enthusiasts, to small time artists, to Indie Game Developers. If using a SaaS business model is what it takes to get them to price more competitively, then I’m all for it.

    I do get that many people still prefer direct purchases (especially since many don’t need/want to upgrade it every single year) but I maintain if the price goes down enough then its worth it for Autodesk to take that route. By that, I mean pricing like $99/user/mo for the entertainment creation suite (Maya, Max, Mudbox, Motionbuilder)

    11:03 pm on Saturday, February 7, 2015

  10. THW said:

    The Master Collection had all the apps and I could put it on one desktop and one laptop per employee. New business customer is $69 per month ($828/year) for all apps or $29 per app and is also good on two computers (I just got off chat with Adobe to confirm). The upgrade to the Master Collection was about $800 and was good for at least 2 years, so the cost is about twice as much over the long run (after the capital expense of buying the software is paid off, which at $800/year is about three years at current subscription rates) and I still do not actually own the software. I quit paying and the software goes away. Good for them and very bad for me. To that I say no thanks. The only problem I have now is that I am looking for a good Web Publisher because Dream Weaver was good for me. For the interim I can still use CS6, which is good. For the rest, for what I do CorelDRAW and Photopaint are more than adequate and costs $500 or less for both. So, in the end, they have lost at least one customer, but they may have gained more, I don’t know and only time will tell if their new model works. It simply does not work for me and I suspect the same will be true for Autodesk, of which I own AutoCAD, AutoCAD Map 3D and AutoCAD LT, all 2015 versions. The difference is that with Autodesk, I believe that I still own the software when the subscription runs out. We shall see. Bottom line – I’m out and I used to pay those two companies a lot of money.

    11:29 pm on Saturday, February 7, 2015

  11. Jaime Robledo said:

    How funny, I was about to order Inventor LT, but have decided instead to go with ZW3D. The subscription business only makes sense for the customer if the price is low.

    9:04 pm on Friday, May 15, 2015

  12. Jaime Robledo said:

    I’m disappointed, my trial of the software seemed good, but the cost is way too high. All of these large companies seem to have forgotten why they are in business. It’s all about their great CEOs and their fabulous software, not the customer. Maybe after they lose their market share and the little companies outpace their developments and customers find other solutions, the prices will drop and the customer will once again become the reason why they are in business.

    As the customer, I should be able to choose what I like, especially, in the virtual world of software.

    9:09 pm on Friday, May 15, 2015

  13. johntate90210 said:

    People cheat on their taxes and spouses but that doesn’t mean everybody should.

    10:32 am on Thursday, January 21, 2016

  14. johntate90210 said:

    AutoCAD has always been priced extremely high and they never give any sort of price break. I don’t know if MicroStation still does it but they once let you have additional copies at lower rates. The more you bought, the cheaper they got. A previous employer switched half the company to MicroStation based on it being less expensive.

    AutoCAD’s high price is exactly why companies are so tempted to pirate it. My current company’s annual subscription price is simply insane and I know most of our contractor’s stick with old versions simply because they can’t afford the cost. They’ll be hurt when they need to reinstall and the serves won’t activate them although they paid a perpetual ownership fee. Most of them (and many of our employees) really could get by with the free DraftSight.

    10:43 am on Thursday, January 21, 2016

  15. hueLord0 said:

    Thank god, I made an in-house 3D package program just in time. I would of been stuck with renting for eternity.

    1:18 pm on Wednesday, March 30, 2016

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