Tuesday, March 7th, 2017 Posted by Jim Thacker

Autodesk to raise price of its software maintenance plans

Autodesk is to raise the price of the maintenance plans for its software by over 38% by 2019, phased over three annual price rises.

Customers affected will be given the option to switch from maintenance to a rental-only subscription at a discounted rate, although the cost of doing so will also rise year-on-year until 2019.

Cost of renewing maintenance to rise year-on-year until 2019; multi-year renewals removed
Maintenance plans provide users with existing licences of Autodesk software with their only means of updating to the current release, Autodesk having discontinued sales of new perpetual licences in 2016.

Under the new pricing structure, which comes into force on 7 May 2017, the cost of remaining on maintenance will increase significantly: by 5% in 2017, 10% in 2018, and 20% in 2019.

The increases are cumulative, meaning that the cost of maintenance will increase by 38.6% in three years.

Autodesk has also just removed the option to renew a maintenance plan for more than one year at a time, limiting users’ options to stave off the increased costs.

Instead, users will be offered the chance to switch from maintenance to subscription at “up to 60% less than the cost of a new subscription” – and here, multi-year plans are still available.

The discount is available to users of both individual products like 3ds Max, Maya and Maya LT, and to users of the old Entertainment Creation Suites, who will be able to switch to the new M&E Industry Collection.

All a matter of controlling costs?
The move has attraced considerable user criticism, both on third-party forums like CGTalk and in Autodesk’s own AREA community.

In its online FAQs, Autodesk doesn’t offer any explanation for the price rises, beyond noting that it is “quite costly” to maintain subscription and maintenance plans side by side – although that doesn’t really explain why the cost of switching will itself increase annually: by 5% in 2018, and a further 5% in 2019.

However, incentivising users to switch to switch early carries potential financial benefits for Autodesk itself. In past presentations to its shareholders, the company has noted that it makes significantly more money out of customers on subscription than those on perpetual licences.

So are you better off switching to subscription or sticking on maintenance?
Given that the annual cost of subscription is typically higher than that of a maintenance contract, for many users, remaining on maintenance will still work out cheaper even after the price rises come into force.

Where the exact transition point occurs depends on when you choose to switch, and what kind of subscription plan you choose to switch to, but to judge from the figures posted on forums so far, you’re only likely to save money in the short term if you take out a multi-year subscription.

Whether that changes in the long term depends on whether Autodesk continues to raise its maintenance prices, or even removes maintenance entirely.

In a recent post on the AREA, Autodesk global operations and community manager Matt DiMichele said that the company had “no plans to ever remove maintenance subscription”, although he has since updated to downgrade that statement to “no plans currently exist”.

Read Autodesk’s FAQs on the price increases to its software maintenance plans