Autodesk likely to kill off licenses and switch to only renting the software


Autodesk is “seriously considering” scrapping perpetual licences of its software in favour of an Adobe-style rental-only model, according to CEO Carl Bass, speaking in a conference call with financial analysts this month.
Decision to drop software upgrades helped drive revenues
Bass’s remarks were made in the context of Autodesk’s recent record second-quarter earnings: attributed in part to the decision to discontinue upgrades of its software next year driving subscription revenue.
Asked by one analyst at what point customers buying their final upgrades before the deadline might be forced to “finally cave in for maintenance in order to stay current”, Bass noted that users can still also stay up to date by repurchasing software outright when they feel it has accumulated enough new features to justify the cost.
“If you don’t want to get our maintenance, you buy a perpetual license now … and then some number of years from now when you’re comfortable with the new product, you buy another perpetual license,” he said.
A move away from perpetual licences would remove that option to skip versions at will.
Asked by another analyst when the company “might eliminate perpetual sales”, Bass commented: “We’ve been looking and considering it seriously and we’ll talk a little bit more about [our plans] in October.”
Dropping perpetual licences: only a question of time?
In this case, October means Autodesk’s annual investor day. However, comments made by Bass later in the conference call suggest Autodesk regards the decision as when, not whether, to drop perpetual licences.
Commenting on Adobe’s existing rental-only licensing model, he noted: “Three years from now it will be surprising to me if anybody is really running very much perpetual desktop software.”
Listen to a recording of the analyst conference call on Autodesk’s website
(Registration required: the relevant section starts around 17:30)

SideFX, Pixologic and The Foundry managements are having a party.

CGForums thread. People are really happy.

To the best that I know people need to buy or pay to upgrade to every newest edition of autodesk. So already it is effectively software with a tax to stay current. But I wonder if autodesk software will start following the windows OS tacit acceptable piracy model. The historian and people watcher in me is excited at the thought of watching this unfold.

Don’t their customers already pay a high enough upfront cost?

Autodesk needs to just go away now, none of their software is as great as everyone makes it out to be.

just off that chart i would sell their stock not buy. revenues go up and profits go down? quarterly rev is a record but profit the same quarter is less than 1/3 of record profits which were earned on 2/3 the revenue? as an investor i would want them to get back to what they were doing q1 2009. if you look at profits their record profit (ok loss reduction) quarter over quarter was the same quarter they had their record revenue loss for the quarter. i am not a cpa, but profits being inverse to revenue leads me to suspect something is wrong. the more money i make the less i have? the less money i make the more i have? i would be getting an accountant for my accountants.

and if you compare ADSK to ADBE the last time adbe was higher % was jan 2010. why move to a business model you have out performed consistantly over a 5 year period % wise? the two year chart favors adobe, but the 1 year chart is back to a toss up

Looks like greed the big sin will make them succumb. Nobody in right mind will pay a recurrent license per month for their software. This will land Krita and Gimp to look shiny in long run.

Even make Blender 3D shine more …

I wont pay ever a software that ask me to pay again and again when I dont want to pay again and again and again for features I DON`T NEED or WANT.

No offense but that is child’s talk. Adobe had nobody running away. Autodesk rules the industry and nobody is ditching Autodesk to use Blender instead.

Adobe had nobody running away, true. But everyone is sticking to CS6, because it does what users want and the latest upgrades just don’t justify to start renting your software.

If at some point, other softwares become a good alternative to CS6, with a continued development that doesn’t require a subscription, then people will start to switch I think. The same would happen with Autodesk softwares, and since the evolution of 3d softwares is way faster and more important for production (you can live without a new photoshop filter, but you can’t live with a software that doesn’t support the latest export format, or doesn’t allow you to sculpt, or do quick retopo), it will happen quicker than they think.

Not a great big surprise.
I was worried they’d put out maya 2016 by December, nothing says innovation like a clever naming scheme, but it might have worn thin with a new version every month.

Stockholders just want to see constant profit. You’d be surprised at how many do not understand what they have invested in, nor really care. Pay close attention to any big company, you’ll see them make unwise decisions in face of pressure from these people.

EDIT: double post

I guess cekuhnen is right about pros and studios, but I bet next generation (i.e. hobbyists and young hopefuls) are in different situation; Autodesk and Adobe seem to think they don’t matter. They are burning their future so they better make a lot of money from current users. Too bad the situation now (economic downturn) doesn’t support their plans.

I agree that SideFX, Pixologic and The Foundry could gain from this.

To my shame I won’t be able to cite sources for this, And there may be some bias in my memory, But to look at the Microsoft Windows market and use that as a framework for speculation I find myself asking these questions.

1- How much Piracy will Autodesk put up with? Microsoft laxed their anti-piracy enforcement’s once they saw more competitors on the horizon. Such as Wine emulators for linux and more widespread use of Mac’s and the like. It looks like they may be poised to flex an Iron grip to my eyes.

2- Looking at the timing for what Blender is developing, And this Move for Autodesk. I see blender building up its potential as people strive to make it a viable tool for industry, While Autodesk’s new rent to use schema looks like it is going to be causing those already in industry to reevaluate their options. So that makes me ask what will the smaller players in industry do and what will the larger players in industry do.

This really shows the true value of open software like Blender. It’s not the dollars it’s the fact that you are never tied in. For this reason alone it’s important to contribute to the Blender project any way you can. Through donations, tutorials, support, constructive criticism, development, bug reports and so on.

It is my opinion. You are offending my opinion. You have the right of your opinion without personal attack!


If I don`t want to support a company it is my decision , and not a child play. So check your way of talking.

To me this is a question of investment vs expenditure.
That is, how much would an investment into targeted development of Blender add-ons cost vs just paying a sub.*

These are speculative numbers but bear with with for a moment:
CS6 sold for about one third the price tag of Max and now subs for $50 for the full package.
If AD follows that metric we should see Max and Maya subs running $150ish.

If you were an upstart studio looking to put together 10 work stations, how much development time could you buy for $1500 a month?
I’m sure the answer is not much but at the end of a year you have $18,000 to spend on plug-ins you would own and could then sell to recoup your cost. Not to mention you get to start off with a package, that at no up front cost will do to some degree or another, what Max or Maya will need an additional upfront payout for.

Just thinking out loud, as a hobbyist I left Max for Blender and have no desire to return.

*Keep in mind that paying the sub only gets you in the door with the base application. FumeFX, RayFire, Krakatoa, Thinking Particals, Vray, Maxwell Render, all have their own price tags.

Those who stick with CS6 are few =- most will at one point switch. New users growing into this industry dont even have the choice to buy something besides the cloud crap.

I am actually all for buying a license and owning it instead of renting it but Autodesk as well as Adobe have a monopol

Windows and Word are the two most disastrous products but they are dominating the world.

Nothing from the open source scene was ever able to get the same market saturation - sadly thats a fact.

I approach this more from a realist point of view.

I gave all tools from Gimp to inkscape to Scribus a try and went back to Adobe because those OSS packages just dont deliver the same tools I need as a professional. Sad but true.

When I started to study there were so many vector drawing tools on the market and companies. Too bad Adobe was allowed to by Macromedia.

Ideally, a company should have a permanent licensing option alongside a monthly subscription and/or rental option (that eventually will add up to a full year’s upgrade cost).

This being because the rental option can be very useful if you’re hiring temporary artists who need access to the software and subscribing is good for ensuring you have the latest updates, but I sympathize with those who mourn the loss of being able to no longer have a permanent license if not only for ensuring they can keep working in it (along with their content) as long as needed if they don’t have the money to upgrade.

There’s essentially pros and cons with this scheme, but Autodesk may not be making a very good public relations move by making it the only option.

I totally agree with that, and I don’t think that Adobe or Autodesk softwares will be replaced by OSS ones. Adobe is lucky to have very small competition for now. But there are a lot of alternatives to Autodesk products. With The Foundry behind Modo now and owning a very nice software suite, I think they will take over Autodesk faster than everyone think.

On the topic of sober second thoughts, I see this as a short term gain and a long term loss for Autodesk, Unless they manage to play the angle of renting the software only for the time you need it with out worry about weather it is or is not the latest version of it.

But as for Microsoft one of their best assets is they are in the market first with the most force, And they did everything they could to make sure there is a computer is every house running Windows, Rockefeller before hand had a similar tact, And in both cases they made compromises to the short term bottom line to reach that goal.
But Autodesk is not Microsoft, The market is filled with alternatives that have significant market shares and one asset of a perpetual licence is not only do you own said software out right, The users and owners of that software have an asset they know will be there, And that even when they upgrade there is still the potential to use the legacy software to augment their current work flow. But with this move by Autodesk, Yes it can be seen as a way to ‘help’ their clients by making the newest features affordable. But it also has the feel of a strong arm pressure tactic and that is one thing that can often cause markets to reconsider their options.