Autodesk Wants You To Subscribe To Their 3D Software, They Really Do!

By on March 7th, 2017 in Software

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 Autodesk's logo
Autodesk’s logo

3D software giant Autodesk, whose products are used by many Fabbaloo readers, has announced significant price increases for their non-subscription products.

Autodesk made a strategic shift a few years ago when they introduced subscription-based pricing for some of their powerful 3D software products. Previously these products were purchased in the traditional manner: a box of software with an unending license to use it. If you wanted an upgrade to the next version, you’d either pay an annual maintenance fee or a fee more or less equivalent to that.

This divided their community into two modes: those who subscribed and kept their Autodesk software continually up to date, and those “thrifty” users who would upgrade only occasionally as they may have felt new features available in frequent upgrades were not sufficiently useful. 

But subscription pricing changed all that. Instead of paying the relatively large one-time fee, you’d instead pay a monthly fee that over the course of the year would be more or less the same as buying the product with a subscription fee. This had several advantages to buyers, not the least of which was to smooth out the cash flow required to participate. No need to save up for the purchase! 

It also had significant advantages to Autodesk, who could manage the software far more effectively, as changing the software once in the cloud became the norm, rather than hoping inconsistent buyers would manually upgrade themselves. Having the community all on a common version simplifies much. 

But, amidst all this, Autodesk still offered standalone traditional software version of their software. People could still buy them with unending licenses and pay for maintenance if they wanted to receive upgrades. 

This meant that Autodesk would STILL have to manage all the different versions distributed and the full benefits of the cloud based subscription service would elude them. 

Now this may change, as Autodesk announced some significant price changes. Here’s their logic: 

We believe that subscribing is the best way for our customers to get the greatest value from our tools and technologies – and will fundamentally change how we deliver extended capabilities and new functionalities through connected services.

Aha, yes, this is likely true, not only for the buyers, but especially for Autodesk. However, they don’t say anything about the effect this will have on the “lazy” upgraders, who would ultimately pay Autodesk more per year if they switch to the subscription service. 

Autodesk goes on to explain the price increase: 

Beginning in June 2017, customers with eligible products on maintenance will have the ability to easily switch to a subscription at the time of renewal for up to 60% less than the cost of a new subscription. Customers can take advantage of this offer once per seat of a product on maintenance. The price to switch will increase 5% in 2018 and another 5% in 2019, so the earlier customers switch to subscription, the less it will cost. 

Ok, that’s good. This makes the switch a bit more palatable for those thrifty users. And then there’s this: 

While we will continue to offer customers the choice of renewing their maintenance plan on an annual basis, effective February 20, 2017, multi-year maintenance plan renewals will no longer be offered. In addition, because managing two business models (subscription and maintenance plans) is quite costly, in order to continue supporting maintenance plans, beginning May 7, 2017, maintenance plan renewal prices will increase by 5% in 2017, 10% in 2018, and 20% in 2019.

I suspect these increases are cumulative, meaning over the base maintenance fee you might see increases to 5%, 15% and ultimately 39%. This would make it effectively silly to continue with your standalone copy and eventually lead to Autodesk supporting only the subscription service. 

The bottom line here is this: if you’re using Autodesk products, get ready to use a subscription if you aren’t already doing so. 

Via Autodesk

By Kerry Stevenson

Kerry Stevenson, aka "General Fabb" has written over 8,000 stories on 3D printing at Fabbaloo since he launched the venture in 2007, with an intention to promote and grow the incredible technology of 3D printing across the world. So far, it seems to be working!