The list of monthly subscriptions photographers are pressured to keep up becomes longer every year. From Dropbox to Pixieset, Adobe to Honeybook, and Shootproof to Fundy, photographers' monthly bills multiply annually. Now, Capture One wants a piece of the pie, and its community is not happy about the announcement.
What Capture One Announced
Capture One has just announced changes to their licensing. C1 users received an email outlining some of the upcoming changes:
From 2023 we will no longer be tied to an annual cycle for major releases. As a result, there will not be a Capture One 24. Instead, we will continuously release new tools and features on a rolling basis throughout the year.
Alongside this, we will also be making changes to our perpetual licenses from February 1, 2023. Here’s what’s changing:
- New perpetual licenses will include updates with bug fixes until the next version, but new features released after purchase will not be included.
- Upgrade pricing will no longer be available and will be replaced with a new loyalty scheme. More details will be announced on February 1, 2023.
No specifics were given on what the details of this "loyalty scheme" will be. Instead, they will be announced by February 2023.
In an article on their support page, Capture One clarified:
Capture One offers perpetual and subscription licenses for users. The difference between those is the term of validity. A perpetual license is everlasting (for life, providing that you meet the minimum system requirements), while with a subscription plan you have to make regular payments to keep the license active - but you always have access to the latest version.
The overwhelming majority of comments from the community ranged from feeling mislead to outrage.
So, if I understand correctly, that means that those of us who used to regularly upgrade (upgrades that went from $99 to $199 over a few years already) their perpetual license will now have to buy a full license each time there is a partial release? That is a clever move to go to a subscription only model without saying it.
Many responded with comments about what they felt like was disingenuous marketing language:
I'm really disappointed by this move. Don´t try to sell it as doing what 'many of you told us'. This is strictly about optimizing your profit and NOT in the best interest of your customers! Rolling out constant updates only to your subscription-based customers and leaving the perpetual licenses as a choice would be the way to go if you really cared what your customers want or need.
Hi C1, This hurts and is clearly about to anger the community. Pls. cut the marketing speak and be honest of what is happening.
The readers collectively were impassioned.
I feel like I was mislead...
I'm very disappointed...
I feel betrayed...
I'm feeling super screwed at the moment...
I feel so f*cked...
Capture One in suicide mode...
They totally lost my trust...
This is deeply exploitative...
This feels and smells like blackmail and extorsion...
Merry Xmas, bye and all the best for your future...
A minority of commenters welcome the change and see it as an industry standard.
Personally I don't see what's wrong with this move. It's industry standard to withhold feature updates to the next major release. Many software companies do it the same way. If you don't need the new features, nobody is forcing you to upgrade. You only upgrade when you need it. So, I'm not sure what's the fuss. Please enlighten me if I miss something.
What Did Capture One Have to Say About It?
Capture One hopes this new subscription basis model will offer the upgrades when they are needed, not on a forced annual timeline. When I asked Capture One if they had a comment for the piece, Mariann Eliassen, PR and Editorial Manager, noted:
Just to be clear, we are not ending perpetual licenses. We know that this option is important to some of our customers, and we are committed to keeping this available for them. Anyone who has bought or will buy Capture One 23 before February 1, 2023, will still enjoy the same benefits as they would with any previous version of the software. After this date, everyone will still be able to buy a perpetual license and fully enjoy the features that come with it in perpetuity.
My initial inquiry included the question, "Many users expressed feeling misled in the sales of the perpetual licenses, without any note or warning about the changes just around the corner. Would you care to share your perspective or contribute a quote on this?" This question was not directly addressed in the response.
Why Are So Many Upset?
The readers' frustration came with the fact that they purchased the C23 upgrade but wished they would have been informed of the upcoming choices available to them. Skipping the end-of-line C23, they would have preferred to find out about the newly announced "loyalty scheme" and wait for that information before making purchases. One reader noted on the matter:
The current 30% discount to upgrade ends at the end of Jan. But they won't tell us what the new 'Loyalty Program' is until Feb 1st. So purposely denying customers the ability to know what is the best route. For all we know, the 'Loyalty' prize could be a box of bananas and a cheesecake. Hardly being transparent, is it?
Will This Make Them Lose Their Edge Over Adobe?
Both pieces of software boast impressive performances; however, many Capture One subscribers have favored not having to dish out monthly money if they were content with their software. Now, keeping up with the software upgrades will require a subscription to their Loyalty Scheme.
What are your thoughts on the matter? Is Capture One simply falling in line with the industry standard, or are they losing their customer-pleasing point of differentiation?