Wednesday, February 4th, 2015 Posted by Jim Thacker

Autodesk to go subscription only on 1 February 2016


Autodesk has confirmed that it intends to phase out perpetual licences of its software next year, and revealed more details of its new pay-as-you-go desktop subscription plans.

Who is affected, and who isn’t?
From 1 February 2016, a desktop subscription will become the only way to obtain new commercial seats of most of the company’s standalone entertainment creation products, with the exception of Flame.

However, anyone who owns an existing perpetual licence will be able to continue to use the software – if not to upgrade it – without taking out a desktop subscription; while users on maintenance subscriptions will also “continue to receive corresponding benefits as long as their subscription remains active”.

Students and colleges are unaffected: they will continue to receive free educational licences.

The company will also continue to offer perpetual licences of its Entertainment Creation Suites, which bundle 3ds Max and/or Maya with Mudbox, MotionBuilder and Softimage, after February 2016.

Do the numbers add up for you?
Autodesk first revealed that it intended to move away from the old ‘buy once, use forever’ model of software licensing in a conference call to investors last October.

As we reported at the time, whether this benefits you financially depends on how often you currently upgrade your software.

At present, a desktop subscription for 3ds Max or Maya costs $185 per month or $1,470 per year, whereas a perpetual licence costs $3,675. In other words, by moving to a desktop subscription, you’ll be paying same price as buying a new perpetual licence of the software every 1.65 to 2.5 years.

(For Maya LT, the breakeven point is slightly longer: a perpetual licence costs $795 – the equivalent of 2.2 to 3.3 years’ desktop subscription payments, at rates of $30 per month or $240 per year.)

However, Autodesk has now gone some way towards addressing the concerns of infrequent upgraders like freelancers and small studios, announcing a new three-year desktop subscription, priced at $4,410 for Maya.

Not purely a matter of cost?
If that doesn’t convince you, Autodesk is pitching other benefits for pay-as-you-go. The official news release notes that desktop subscription “offers a simplified installation, management and upgrade experience”.

In a conference call this afternoon, the firm noted that once the new system beds in, it aims to phase out its existing large, once-or-twice-yearly updates to its software in favour of continuous smaller, incremental updates.

Autodesk also “plans to continually innovate and improve desktop subscription products to more tightly integrate them with Autodesk cloud services and reduce file compatibility issues.”

So far, we haven’t found any more details about what cloud services will be available to users of the entertainment software products. We’ll update if we do.

Read Autodesk’s FAQ document on desktop subscriptions

See a full price list for all of Autodesk’s desktop subscription plans