Monday, January 14th, 2013 Posted by Jim Thacker

Autodesk to raise cost of upgrades for its software

The Entertainment Creation Suite 2013. Autodesk’s new upgrade pricing, which begins on 1 February, means that upgrades from the six most recent versions of all of its software will be charged at 70% of the SRP.

Autodesk is to raise the cost of upgrading old versions of its software, and to limit upgrades to the six previous releases behind the present version.

The new pricing comes into effect from 1 February 2013.

Frequent updaters pay more; very infrequent updates, more still
Previously, upgrades from the previous three releases of Autodesk products cost 50% of the suggested retail price for the latest version, while upgrades from any older version cost 70% of the SRP.

Now upgrades from the previous six versions cost 70%, while users of older versions have to pay the full SRP.

(That first figure comes from emails from resellers. Autodesk’s Q&A document says the rate is “approximately” 70 per cent, so it may be that there is a bit of international variation.)

Either way, the result is that if you update regularly, or very infrequently, you’re going to have to pay more.

If we’ve done the math correctly, it’s going to cost just over $700 more to upgrade 3ds Max or Maya 2010, 2011 or 2012 to the current version after the end of the month.

And if you’re using a version released before 2007 (that is, 3ds Max 8 or below or Maya 7 or below), it will cost you around $1,100 more to upgrade.

Suggested retail prices up 5% in North America
If you’re using a version released in between, the cost of the upgrade is largely unaffected – although it may still be higher than you’re expecting if you live in North America.

Autodesk raised all of its North American SRPs by 5% last August: something that didn’t get covered as widely as it might at the time, and which we suspect has passed some people by.

The SRP of 3ds Max 2013 and Maya 2013 is now $3,675, for example, up from $3,495 at the time of release.

Streamlined pricing vs switching to Subscription
Autodesk describes the new policy as ‘simplifying’ or ‘streamlining’ upgrade pricing, although the Q&A document hints that it sees annual maintenance contracts as preferable to paid upgrades.

“For many customers, Autodesk Subscription [contracts, which include regular upgrades] may continue to be the most convenient and cost-effective way to keep their software up-to-date.”

Here, however, some users may experience local price hikes of their own. According to a recent email from distributor bluegfx, the cost of renewing a 3ds Max subscription is also about to rise in the UK:

“Over the years, UK users have enjoyed a considerably lower renewal cost than our global friends, but alas, this has come to an abrupt end; from 25 March they [Autodesk] are rising [the price] from £360 to £495 plus VAT.”

A “more and more expensive” cycle
Not surprisingly, the reaction from Autodesk users been largely negative. You can find discussions on most CG forums, but the posts on this thread on Max Underground are fairly typical.

“I feel like I’m forced to be on an upgrade cycle that feels completely random in term of actual usefulness – a cycle that keeps on getting more and more expensive,” commented well-known 3ds Max artist Rune Spaans.

Software developers do have to raise their prices from time to time, of course – and Autodesk isn’t alone in having done so, or in wanting people to take out maintenance contracts.

But in these cash-strapped times, that isn’t an argument we’ve seen many people advancing.

Read Autodesk’s Q&A about its new upgrade prices