When Adobe came out with Creative Cloud it was an alternative to buying CS6. For some it saved them money, but not everyone. Just one year later and Adobe has decided that the Creative Cloud (CC) is the way to go. They’re killing off perpetual licenses and offering the full suite for $50 a month or $20 a month for a program like Photoshop CC all by itself. If you’re a user who needs the full creative suite and needs to keep up to date the $50 a month they charge for the full thing is actually a good deal; those aren’t the people who are unhappy about Creative Cloud.
Adobe says this gets you a better experience, cloud storage (although they give you a pathetic amount and who doesn’t already have 5 cloud storage options by now anyway?), and some degree of synchronization across devices. But what’s really going on? A huge amount of arguing apparently.
What’s the problem?
The switch to CC only is not without its issues, however there seems to be a lot of people overreacting or making wild claims that aren’t based in reality. That’t not to say there aren’t some rational concerns about the increased cost for some users and the loss of software availability if one discontinues monthly payment. Both of these affect me because in the past I was a version skipper. I upgraded every second or third version which at $200 an upgrade is much cheaper than having to pay $20 a month ($240 a year) when I was buying an upgrade no sooner than every three two to three years or so. Adobe was already cracking down on version skippers, making the upgrade availability less generous (the CS6 upgrade required CS5 before a public outcry forced Adobe to change that, for instance), but now they’ve effectively killed it off entirely.
There are also some rather extreme claims being made and some are predicting that Adobe will take this even further. Lightroom hasn’t gone CC only but it sounds like Adobe is thinking of making Lightroom CC a reality, some of what they said makes it sound to me like that will be the better version. Could Lightroom eventually become CC only? Maybe, but there are some even stranger ideas out there. Some people are running around and panicking and making claims such as how Adobe will release future PSD formats that only CC subscribers can use, or that you can no longer get Lightroom without subscribing (which is not at all true).
After enough time had passed to wind everyone up I managed to stumble across some even more interesting things. This has gotten so blown out of proportion that responses from well known photographers range from Scott Bourne’s example of being ridiculously out of touch to Scott Kelby sounding like a thinly veiled Adobe shill. Adobe themselves have even taken the time to respond to the kerfuffle but it hasn’t done anything to calm everyone’s nerves. The Photoshop experience so many have enjoyed for so long has changed, and for some it’s likely going to be over because they just can’t afford it anymore.
This will help stop piracy though, right?
A lot of people have claimed that Adobe is doing this to combat piracy, however, according to Adobe the answer is no:
While service options that connect to our servers are inherently less prone to piracy, once a user downloads software to their computer the piracy threat is the same as for our perpetual products.
The reason behind the subscription-only move is the logistics of supporting two sets of software. The last 12 months of development was brutal. And there were results we were not happy with. We have decided to focus on the CC products.
Although Scott Bourne claims that everyone will hate this because it puts an end to piracy (which itself is a ridiculous argument, he’s the only one I’ve seen mention it), I don’t see any reason why we should believe this will have any impact on piracy at all. If it does anything it will probably drive more people to pirate Adobe’s software because those who were on the edge and could afford the occasional upgrade before are left without the option.
From a technical standpoint, the claims that this will hinder piracy don’t seem to be grounded in any sort of reality. You still download an installer from Adobe, and you install it like anything else, the difference is in how it checks for a license and activates itself. It has to keep doing this every so often to confirm it is still being paid for. All the pirates need to is shut off that call home and trick the software in to thinking it is active (which they’ve done before time and time again). I can’t say when this will happen, but I can guarantee it will. There may be some delay after each build is released but that’s no different from how it has been. Maybe a year from now you can look at your favorite torrent site and see Photoshop CC of different vintages to choose from based on which build was pirated when.
It’s not really a matter of if, only when.
I could rant and rave further on how most anti-piracy measures only punish the paying customer, but I really don’t want that here. Put simply though, when owning the software or owning the DVD or Blu-Ray involves worrying about DRM and licensing that may actually get in your customer’s way, you’re making the pirated experience the superior one. In this case I don’t believe piracy was Adobe’s main goal, they simply believe they can make more money this way.
There are some good suggestions being made about how Adobe could let you buy out your license and give you a stable version to keep for as long as you like, but I don’t see that happening easily. I think it’s going to take a lot to get Adobe to change to a model that’s more friendly to their less well off consumers, or those who don’t need every latest version. At least they’ve acknowledged that they’re not offering a photographer friendly CC option although I’m not expecting whatever they might come up with to be any closer financially to what many are used to.
I started using Corel PhotoPaint and Draw in the mid to late 90s before switching to Adobe’s software. The Corel stuff seemed more approachable at the time but I recall thinking Adobe’s was more capable. Maybe that’s not true anymore, but I may be finding out down the road as I explore other options. I figure I’ll be fine with CS5 and Lightroom for a good while (as long as Adobe doesn’t screw Lightroom up). For the other companies out there this could prove to be a great opportunity as people seek asylum from Adobe’s new pricing and licensing shenanigans.