Licensing is difficult to get right.
Deciding how to price and license our software was difficult. We had to come up with a pricing model which spans the range of someone who is a freelancer or hobbyist, all the way up to enterprise level clients and this took us months to get right. We also had to decide on whether or not we wanted predictable revenue, or one off sales. The big topic we'd like to address is the industries move towards subscription only licensing, what subscriptions mean to us, and how we strive to be customer-centric in our decisions by offering a way to earn perpetual (lifetime) licenses.
For JangaFX, we needed a licensing model that ensured that not only are we able to survive and continue to grow our company far into the future (subscriptions), but also enable our customers to feel like they’re being treated fairly (perpetual licenses). We care about our customers, their feedback, and how they're treated.
Larger companies don't care about their customers, they care about pleasing investors first. In our case, YOU are our number one priority.
As larger companies like Adobe switch their software to subscription only, people are getting angrier at most other subscription based software due to the way these larger companies treat them. Subscriptions in general are a good thing for the companies that offer them, as it allows them to have more predictable and steady income each month. Customers end up getting burned by this model in the end, because if they cancel their subscription they will no longer have access to the software. The customers who loyally paid for YEARS cannot use these tools anymore due to the subscription only licensing model. This subscription only cycle creates anger and resentment towards companies that offer subscriptions, and customers nope themselves out of spending their hard earned cash. To make matters worse, sometimes these companies squeeze even more money out of you by making you pay to cancel. Gotta please those investors, right?
On the other hand, perpetual licenses are being phased out by most companies due to the fact that it is a one time sale. With these one off sales, companies will not make as much money, and it’s not as profitable. When companies corner markets and are the dominant player, whatever they say goes and you’re forced to either roll with what their licensing model is, or find another solution. Typically with perpetual licenses, if a new version of the software came out the next year, you could pay half price of the original cost and upgrade to the latest version. This licensing strategy kept companies on their feet and consistent innovation was a necessity to survive.
What are we doing differently?
So in the midst of all the bullshit larger companies put their customers through, how do we aim to keep our users happy and still make us enough money to grow our company? A rent-to-own-hybrid licensing model.
With our software, no matter what licensing tier you’re in (Indie, Studio, Enterprise), if you pay for 12 consecutive months you are granted a perpetual license. So if you purchased an annual license, you will immediately be granted a perpetual license that will let you use the software indefinitely. With this perpetual license, you get to keep the last version of the software that you paid for. If our most recent release was on August 15th, 2020 and the version number was 1.35.0 and your subscription ended on August 30th, 2020, you would get to keep version 1.35.0 forever.
To further show that we’re on the side of our customers, for each year that you stay subscribed with us on an annual plan, the software gets cheaper and ends up being similar to a maintenance plan. If you cancel your subscription without paying 12 consecutive months, you will not get a perpetual license. If you resume your subscription after cancelling, you start the counter over again and get a new license key. If you own a perpetual license and cancel your subscription, you can no longer update that perpetual license.
We have no cancellation fees, so if you only need the software for a month we've got you covered!
Keeping perpetual license updates fair within a subscription model.
Here’s our reasoning as to why cancelling your subscription forfeits your ability to update your perpetual license:
Customer A pays for 3 consecutive years with an annual license to keep their perpetual license up to date. They’re now paying a low price each year due to each consecutive year getting cheaper. They’re happy to continue supporting us because we're putting out consistent updates that make our tools better.
Customer B pays for 12 consecutive months and gets their perpetual license then cancels their subscription. 2 years later they decide that their software is out of date and they want to pay for a single month to update their perpetual license to the latest version.
Customer B's scenario isn’t fair for Customer A since Customer A has consistently paid to keep their license up to date. Thus, Customer B isn't allowed to do what they tried to do. Customer B would have to earn a new perpetual license to have one that's up to date. In our model, staying subscribed is similar to how older perpetual maintenance plans worked.
Why a subscription/perpetual hybrid is great for both our customers and our company.
Because our customers can earn perpetual licenses we show that we understand their needs and that we don't want to screw them over. We feel that offering a way to earn a perpetual license is the only fair, ethical, way to have a subscription model for software. A subscription model for our software also allows us to generate more revenue for our company, which helps us fund our R&D of new innovations within our products. We’re also driven to continually improve our products, because if we don't, no one is going to stay subscribed! Subscription only licensing is a cop-out for larger companies to stop innovating on their software and milk customers of their hard earned cash without giving them anything new.
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- Nick Seavert
Founder & CEO