Autodesk perpetual license owners to get screwed big-time

Hidden in amongst a bunch of the usual highly dubious subscription statements from Carl Bass is an announcement that spells doom for Autodesk perpetual license owners. I will resist the temptation to skewer Carl’s spin (for now) because this announcement is much more important:

Bass also confirmed that the company plans to converge the two existing subscription models — maintenance and product subscriptions — into a single offering over the next two years. “If you look out to fiscal year 2020, we want to be in a place where, first of all, we have a single kind of offering with a single back office and infrastructure to support it, one that will be a combination of product subscriptions as you see them plus a consumption model on top of it. That’s where we see the business heading.

“Along the way, it’s how do we motivate customers to move from one model to another in the program, what are the price points, and how does that transition work? In our mind, getting to a single model is really important. It will give the best service to our customers, it will be the most affordable for us to have, [and] we can start getting rid of some of the systems that were designed for a different era and concentrate on giving a world-class experience to users.”

Translation: Autodesk is going to drive up prices of maintenance subscription (perpetual license keeping-up-to-date fee) to match the much higher prices of product subscription (rental). Maintenance subscription will then be merged into oblivion. Your return on your long-term investment in Autodesk software will be zero. Your reward for decades of loyalty to Autodesk will be to have your software costs blown through the roof.

If you’re not already making plans to abandon the Autodesk ship, you really need to do so now. Don’t say I didn’t warn you. Don’t say Carl  didn’t warn you.

Get out or get screwed big-time. I mean, get out or get motivated to transition into a world-class experience.


  1. You’d have to be living under a rock to not see this coming. It’s always been a matter of when, not if.

    I still say this will have an almost zero effect on the customer base as a whole. A few small shops may jump ship, but the rest of the customers are on board this cruise for the duration.

    • Oh yes, I certainly saw it coming. From Battle of the Bullshit part 2 – Autodesk’s sophistry

      Based on what Autodesk has done in recent years, it is a pretty safe bet that the cost of maintenance (formerly called Subscription) is going to rise, and rise sharply. Give it a few years and I expect maintenance customers will be paying the same as rental customers. I expect other strong-arm methods will be used to “encourage” people onto rental. When this happens, our perpetual licenses will be near worthless…

    • Really? I’m sticking with 2016 for perpetuity. Most functionality is achieved through 3rd party plugins and Autodesk hasn’t innovated enough to get perpetual-licence-holders to jump ship to the rental-model. 3ds max 2018 onwards will have to be absolutely amazing for Carl Bass’s plan to work or people will just stop the maintenance-payments and make do with the version they have. Once you stop the maintenance payments, you are stuck with the version you have with no option to upgrade. This means that the rental-only scheme loses existing perpetual-licence customers, perhaps forever.

      • Josef Wienerroither

        Definitely true for the current renting rates. 3ds Max is – what ? 200€/ month ? Insane, AD heads are totally out of their minds if the really believe that the majority of maintenance customers would rent into that

  2. There are those users who need/want latest release, and so are on-board. There are others who buy one copy, use it for what they want, and never need to update. The problem for Autodesk is that the proportion of these users is roughly 50/50.

    • The question is if that 50-50 is an actual problem or a change in strategy? A one time purchase is just that, one time, vs a more continual revenue stream with additional “pay for use / per project” type users. The gamble is that the sum of these paying clients offsets the loss in the one off / 2D AutoCAD markets.

    • As the rate of improvement in AutoCAD has slowed to a trickle over the last few years (and several things have got worse), I’d say that 50/50 is being very generous in terms of those who need/want the latest release. These days people keep up to date because that’s what they have always done, not because it makes sense. Autodesk is now forcing customers to actually think about whether they need to keep up to date. I expect Autodesk to be very uncomfortable with what the majority of customers decide.

  3. The cusotmer base is changing rapidly, look at the sales numbers:
    – a lot of loyal (maintenance) customers are decreasing/abandoning their contracts
    – a lot of new (no incentive to be loyal) subscription customers
    – a significant relative decrease in revenue in EMEA/APAC over several quarters
    – a significant relative increase in revenue in Americas over several quarters
    – an increase in direct to customer sales, by ADSK webshop and sales staff (ADSK resellers inclined to look elsewhere for business and take their customers with them)
    – a significant decrease in AutoCAD/LT sales

    Compare this with increasing sales numbers & increased offerings from DS, Nemetschek, Bricsys & Zwsoft and you get the whole picture.

    If these trends continue, by FY 2020, the average ADSK customer will be a different type of company in a different part of the world.

  4. The interesting thing is $1000 a year for civil3d maint sub is pretty easy to justify. When you jump to $2500 for rental, it does start to become something you think about. The first stage of minimizing adesk products has already begun with several civil companies I know. They stop giving everyone civil3d, and limit it to only those that actually use it. The rest get AutoCad. The next step is to get the acad users to bricscad, and the Civil3d users to civil software for bricscad. The guys from Australia that write what used to be ADR, have adapted it to bricscad and US design patterns. That is a real alternative to Civil3D, even if you use autocad. The fact is, any software vendor makes Autodesk service look horrible. That is sad, as the technical people at Autodesk are great. The organization just got too big and now its all about pleasing internal review instead of true customer review.

    • The software James is referring to is Civil Site Design, a major upgrade to the original Advanced Road Design software. It runs with Civil 3D automated curb returns and improved stability. It will also run with AutoCAD and BricsCAD where it adds its own surface engines and alignments..

  5. Carl Bass is a c…

    [Edit – sorry Chris, but I’m going to have to slice through your comment for your and my legal protection. Feel free to put forward your views strongly, but without the libel – Steve]

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