Autodesk rolls out subscription plans. Threat to Blender?

First it was Adobe, now Autodesk.

Do you think it would create yet another a reason to think before adopting Blender (for users / companies who couldn’t afford Autodesk’s steep prices before) ?

Nah I don’t think so, because Blender has their own public, no matter what Blender is 100% free and in my opinion a lot faster than anything that Autodesk has to offer. Maybe not completely 1:1 like Max’s or Maya’s features but give it some time and you’ll see, Blender will be extremely good, my guess is that version 3.0 is the sweet spot to have all of the necessary features to develop in the territory of a commercial product.

People would still have the complaint of the slow development pace of Autodesk products, and the pricing doesn’t seem that cheap either. The main scenario this would really work for would be if a company needed to add some artists for a few months to finish a project. Not surprising that they would have a pricey subscription package because it does seem like they’ll get away with selling what’s been derided as ‘crippleware’ for nearly 800 dollars.

When you look at Autodesk in general, they could’ve easily used their resources to fund massive product development and in turn keep Blender more or less irrelevant in the context of professional circles, it’s actually kind-of ironic that Blender’s been able to turn so many heads in the professional arena in part because of their missteps and handling of their product line. (like releasing every year even if they are doing some big rewrite projects). Every release that disappoints their userbase in contrast with feature-packed Blender releases is almost certain to increase the amount of money streaming into the BF’s coffers and accelerate development of our favorite open source solution.

Yes Autodesk, hurry along to your death. insert evil laugh here

The subscription plans can actually help Blender if Autodesk decides to stop selling non sub versions, kind of similar to how adobe wont be selling a CS7. Everything from that point on is subscription based as part of the Creative Cloud. IF Autodesk goes this route, there will be many artists who wont want to pay into the subscription bracket.

The problem with subs, most pros know this, is that you end up paying far more in the long run. There is little to no incentive to actually add new or better features (not like Autodesk has a good track record with his anyhow). You also cannot have your sub work in different localizations. For example, say you hop on over to the UK from Canada for a job. Well that subscription you pay is invalidated the moment you changed regions, thus you would have to pay for an additional subscription just to use it in the UK.

Really what it comes down to is two corporate identities who are far removed from their consumers just doing what they can to milk more money out of their “investment”. The problem is that they dont look at their products the same way as some other corporate entities, or even those run by smaller companies which have a much more interpersonal and direct relationship with their consumers.

I dont believe autodesk and adobe have future proofed themselves, in fact, because of their very nature they have only propped up the competition which will eventually threaten the market they assume they control. I say this as a Maya user by the way, love the software but dislike the evil step parent.

At almost $200 a month for Maya, I don’t think Blender has anything to fear as far as being pushed out. I mean, hell, that’s a car payment every month. I think Blender’s way more intuitive than Autodesk products anyway.

The problem with subs, most pros know this, is that you end up paying far more in the long run.
Yes, but Adobe’s Creative Cloud is a lot cheaper when you do the math. Take Photoshop alone. Buying it out-right is how much? Then to upgrade every year is half the price again every year. While for $625 a year, you get everything they offer, including upgrades. The downside is it’s only rented. But still, a much better deal.

While for $625 a year, you get everything they offer, including upgrades. The downside is it’s only rented. But still, a much better deal.

Except in ten years, how many times have you purchased the few programs you actually use? I went several years on PS7 before I got CS2, then stayed on CS2 for a few years til I got CS5 days before 6 came out. Mind you I know I got three other programs in there, two of which I used a lot, but the idea of spending all that cash lead me to think of ways to unhitch myself from them. Still use it, much less though.

The only ones to benefit from these rental services are companies/studios looking to hire a temporary artist for a few months at most. If studios are looking to incorporate Autodesk software into their pipeline and use it for several years they would go bankrupt, renting is certainly not cheap, at all.

I don’t think Blender will suffer from this. Autodesk on the other hand are shooting themselves in the foot if they replace their traditional (already quite bad) payment service with this.

Autodesk’s M&E department dying is not going to mean they disappear, it’s just one of their departments and one that makes a minority of their income at that.

If it does die then it’s probable that it’s not going to be because of Blender, it will be because of their own mishandling of their 3D software and acquired 3D technology and their unpopular pricing structures which causes customers to want to sever their relationship with them. Autodesk has had more than enough resources over the years to keep their apps. light-years ahead of Blender (ie. making a Blender user’s dream of his software matching them almost quixotic in nature), and not only Blender, but the commercial competition as well (all while giving a price point that gives them a near-monopoly among studios big and small).

I wonder if anyone at Autodesk regrets the company getting into the position where people would think of switching to this little FOSS project called Blender, because the commercial world, if they all had the customer’s best interest and requests in mind while maintaining the ideal balance between profit and affordability for the target audience, they could’ve practically ensured that the FOSS concept would pretty much go nowhere and remain the domain of people who just want to stick it to the man or they don’t have much money.

The fact that we’re seeing FOSS projects start to challenge their respective commercial solutions does seem to say something about where people think the corporate culture wound up.

Blender will have to watch out though if Autodesk wises up regarding their LT lineup. If Maya LT (which clocks in at $800) didnt have so many limitations as wasnt intentionally crippled, it would be highly competitive price point for a solid 3d package, even if used alongside Blender. However I dont think AD is smart enough to make those decisions that actually make them competitive, not yet anyway.

Modo was another one to keep an eye out for, but then after being bought out by the Foundry, their price point went up to $1500, and it will probably continue to go up. To keep their price points in perspective, their texture painting application Mari cost $2000, and some licenses they have require you to keep paying per year. Talking with one of their people revealed their price points and business model is because of two things 1) they think highly of themselves and 2) believe that offering tech support deserves that high price point, even if the user doesnt want it.

Money isnt really a problem for some of us, but you dont want to get sucked into some crappy scheme where you as the user are nothing more than a fruit to be plucked as opposed to an artist with needs but also the ability to contribute back. Thats why Blender shines, people work on blender because they want to, because theres a passion there. This isnt to say the 3ds max team and maya team dont have these people, but they are far removed from the user base and kept chained down by the daddy corporation. Everyone loses out.

The one thing keeping Blender back is its choice to be “different” for the sake of being different. Its like reinventing the wheel when it doesnt need to be. The market is literally screaming for a good, accessible, 3d creation suite that is easy to use and consistent with the larger control scheme and pipeline. The best combo is when innovation is filtered by intuitiveness which is created through familiarity. Innovation can happen on top of a foundation based on familiar expectations and design choices. Things like right mouse select and inconsistency found throughout the application need to based around familiarity and ease, with the end user in mind. If people didnt have trouble operating and switching to Blender, it would sky rocket in its use.

Either way, I think its inevitable that will happen, but its a matter of when and hopefully when someone else doesnt wise up enough to get more competitive.

IMO it’s kind of pointless to consider Blender competition for Autodesk.

Many Autodesk users use Blender alongside one of the big packages, and Blender is certainly competing with illegal copies of Autodesk software.

But what percentage of Blender users would have actually bought one of Autodesk’s packages if Blender didn’t exist? Probably very few, if any.

So no, Autodesk’s subscription plans aren’t a threat to Blender, just like Blender isn’t any kind of threat to Autodesk’s products since they’re not really part of the same market. There may come a time when this is no longer the case and Blender starts stealing Autodesk’s sales. But Autodesk has 20 years of inertia on its side, so that that probably won’t come for a while.

To make a dent Blender needs to do more than compete with Max or Maya. It needs to blow right past Max or Maya and their plugins and offer a real advantage to cover the cost of productivity drops and personnel retraining. That’s a tough order despite all the blunders Autodesk’s making.

Nopes, they possibly see what Adobe does and how much money they make on it.

Plans for linux version? No, then I see no treat for blender.

I agree. If it were $20, I’d consider it… maybe.

I believe its only $50 for the Maya LT sub, or you just get it for $800. Generally speaking though, yes the subs do get pricey and again they are region locked. Better to just get a full license without the sub.

Maya has been supported on Linux for at least a few years.

One thing they might not want to tell you outright: They don’t want you as a customer for less than what they charge. They could sell you the software for 500$ or even 100$, but then they have to deal with 4-20x the amount of people for the same kind of money. The less you charge, the worse (as in: “uneducated”) kind of people you will get.

No matter whether you actually provide good support or not, more people means more trouble. A single annoying customer can easily take up the resources for many regular customers. Disgruntle too many of them and you’ll have a PR problem. At least The Foundry isn’t yet a company that has a reputation of “ignoring its customers”.

By keeping the barrier-of-entry high, they can assure that the people they need to deal with are industry professionals, not the legions of amateurs that are currently trying to create the next massively-multiplayer-mobile-freemium-sensation in their basements.

The barrier of entry is free, you get all AD products for free for non-commercial use without verification except the linux versions plus AD definetely has the most thorough documentation and 3rd party tutorials…

Problem for Autodesk here, is that making LT less crippled undermines their flagship product. They have to compete on two fronts: cheaper/free alternatives on one side and themselves on the other. Maya LT is created solely to appear as being competitive, living on name/brand alone. The main selling point of Maya - being a pipeline foundation - is stripped out of LT, besides other artificial limitations, but comparing LT to Maya on price alone gives the illusion of value. I almost feel sorry for people falling for that.

If corporations can make you pay 10 times for the same product and get away with it, they would do it in a heartbeat. Handcuffing users into (region locked) subscriptions and securing a steady revenue stream is a MBA’s wet dream and now reality. It is also becoming more of a necessity in this age of commoditization, fueled by open source, as is apparent in platforms, office, web-services and yes, even DCC.


I agree with you to a point, but a lot of costumers paying the premium price don’t get valuable support. Unless you have a site licence, your annual support contract is likely worth shit to you. The support burden is not going to lessen either, with the new subscription based model, but I don’t think anyone will notice a drop in the already low quality. Besides, for the majority of people support comes through the community of users, and not the company itself.

Maya has been on Linux for over a decade now, following the natural migration from IRIX (SGI’s Unix). I changed to and fell in love with Maya, coming from 3dsmax, back in 2003 because it ran on my main platform. Back then I was interested in Blender, being the FLOSS believer I am, but didn’t commit to it until some years later. Today using Maya makes no sense to me, and I believe this realization will happen to more and more with time.

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