Another day, another app goes subscription.

Capture One looks to be the latest photography capture and photo editing app to go with a so-called “loyalty scheme,” which is a fancy way of saying that the company will be scuttling its perpetual software licensing with annual upgrade discounts in favor of a subscription model. As a powerful photography industry-standard software suite for professional photographers, Capture One offers tools to tether, edit, and catalog raw image file processes. It is a staple for studio photographers and is a crucial part of the workflow. 

Capture One Application

A Path to Future Development

The company stated that a perpetual license simply isn’t profitable enough in a modern subscription-based landscape, which provides the necessary revenue for ongoing and timely software update development. The Photoshop alternative, Pixelmator, recently also adopted a subscription model, stating that running a software company has become expensive and that with the constant demand for updates and new features, only a subscription model will enable them to continue development.

But critics point to Adobe’s record profits since the launch of Creative Cloud in 2013, which has led other companies to follow suit to cash in.

CaptureoneproCredit: Capture One

Capture One will be retiring the annual release schedule of its software with the release of version 23 and will launch the subscription and loyalty version of the software beginning Feb. 1, 2023. The company states that after the release of version 23, users with a perpetual license will only receive years' worth of bug fixes without any new features being added and that there will not be any discounted path to upgrade other than their new loyalty scheme.

But if the company is still going to be offering a perpetual license purchase, then what will be the point? And if it’s just to get the bug fixes, shouldn’t they be issued to all users regardless of whether a license is active or not?

The News Didn't Go So Well

As of now, Capture One states that the subscription is the best option to use the most recent version of the software, which comes at a monthly cost of $24, or $179 annually. For creatives that grew up in the Creative Cloud subscription era, this might not be that big of an issue. Just the cost of doing business, right?

Capture One Subscription TiersSubscription TiersCredit: Capture One

Well, based on the internet’s reaction to the news, customers aren’t taking it too well.

The company recently had a 50% off sale of their annual perpetual license, and then shortly after, announced the news that a subscription model will be coming a few months later. This has led many users to vent that the company is, in essence, “double dipping” by making version 23 essentially obsolete shortly after being purchased (unless you pay for an upgrade).

“Why didn’t you mention this when offering the upgrade?” said one user.

“I bought the upgrade and expected one year of upgrades. I feel betrayed,” said another. 

A Camera One representative attempted to quell the fury by reminding users that the perpetual license will still be honored should a customer not choose to adopt the loyalty scheme.

“You are not required to purchase every update. In the same way, you are not required to purchase a perpetual license every year. It’s up to you how often you upgrade,” wrote Capture One’s Jack Williams. “If there are features or camera support that you don’t want or need, then it’s probably best that you don’t purchase an upgrade.”

Capture One’s website also points out that the new loyalty scheme will have no impact on users of Capture One Pro. Subscribers of the Pro version will continue to receive all updates, including new features, improvements, and new camera and lens support. However, it also says that Capture One Pro 23 users will receive no feature updates after Feb. 1, 2023.

An Evolving Creative Landscape

So it sounds like, at least in the short term, Capture One will keep perpetual license support active. However, at some point, users will have to either transition to the subscription plan or merely look for another alternative.

The days of owning your tools may seem to be a thing of the past, but where there is demand, a solution will arise. While software suites like Capture One and Adobe Creative Cloud have become industry juggernauts, the rise of open-source applications ensures that free solutions are on par with expensive solutions. Blender, once a free, open-source tool for budding 3D artists, is now a capable software suite that finds its way into Hollywood motion pictures.

Moonray by Dreamworks is also joining the open-source party in the new year. Developing software has never been easier as younger generations get better tools and learning opportunities. So when creatives demand a better solution, one will present itself. It's just a matter of time. But what will that mean for companies asking for more of our hard-earned profits? 

What do you think of this new development? Let us know in the comments!

Learn more at the CaptureOne Support page.

Source: Capture One Support