Adobe Announces Creative Cloud Only Licensing For All Creative Suite Applications

May 15th, 2013

By now you’ve probably hear or read some rants about the new Adobe Creative Suite Application licensing that Adobe announced last week. If not here is the news in a nutshell (via

  1. In the future Adobe Creative Suite applications like Photoshop, InDesign, Premiere Pro etc. will only be available via Creative Cloud (on a subscription basis).
  2. You can subscribe to any one application for $19.99/mo.
  3. You can get everything for $49.99/mo.
  4. Lightroom 5 will not be a part of this (yet), it will still be available as a standalone application. This is good news for most real estate photographers!

Whether we like it or not this move by Adobe is part of the new digital world. Any company that’s not distributing  software effectively is not viable in the long term. Adobe has been doing a crappy job of electronic software distribution for a long time. Presumably Creative Cloud will fix that. If it doesn’t this will be a disaster.Of course there’s more going on here than distribution. The price is generally higher unless you are using a lot of Creative Suite applications intensively. But if you just use Photoshop and only upgrade every couple of years, this new licensing is more expensive. The thing that has many people worked up about this change is the subscription part. We are generally not used to subscribing to software.

For many businesses that need professional level applications this change won’t have that much impact. However, for very small, emerging businesses this will probably mean they will be more inclined to use Photoshop Elements  or an old copy of Photoshop if they can get by with it.

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29 Responses to “Adobe Announces Creative Cloud Only Licensing For All Creative Suite Applications”

  • People who need to upgrade (I think from CS 3 and above) get a 40% discount for the first year. It still bites. Thanks a lot ADOBE! We can only hope their technical support improves. I had to do it because they are not doing updates to Camera Raw camera profiles now and I have CS 5.5. I bought the D7100 for a backup and was none too happy that I couldn’t update. One more thing to discuss around the water cooler…

  • If you have CS3 or newer, you can get just photoshop for $9.99/mo…

  • I am a one man show and hAve been for fort-five years. This will be more expensive for me. Thanks Adobe, maybe it is time for me to retire. The day of the small business is coming to an end. Have been teaching Photoshop at the college level for years. I do not see my clients going to a license program.

  • Hey, Adobe, ever feel like someone has their hand in your pocket? Well, I do, and it’s all thanks to you. Get the heck out of my pocket!!!

  • You guys all do know that Adobe isn’t the only image editor out there don’t you?
    For anyone seeking alternatives Corel is offering upgrade pricing (usually 40-60% off the regular pricing) to any Adobe CS4 and up customers.
    Of course there’s a free 30 day trial, as well as a 30 day money back guarantee.

    Paintshop Pro is far better than Photoshop Elements, at a fraction of the price. Corel Draw, while being a vector based editor, has a pretty powerful pixel editor as well. And Corel has stated that they don’t plan to have a subscription only plan any time in the future. They will offer a subscription to those that want it, but it won’t be the only way.

  • A high school friend of mine actually works for adobe and made a good point:

    “I think you will find alot of software companies going this route and in all honesty you should be blaming the people who use pirated versions of this software. Adobe is just trying to ensure they get paid and this is the most logical (and only) step”.

    He went on to tell me a stat he read on the net “57% of people surveyed admitted to using pirated software, with 31% saying they do it “all the time.” Now this is not just adobe software, but it gives you an idea of what software companies are up against.

    If you go to any of the Torrent sites and see the thousands of seeders and leechers (per site).. These are people who have downloaded the pirated software and are now offering it for others. You can imagine the revenue lost.

    Now the only questions is, will this step by adobe actually stop the hackers or just offer them a new challenge but ultimately end up with the same result…. time will tell.

  • Sorry, meant an “old” high school friend. That was just his opinion, he is not directly involved in that part of the company at all, but they are at the center of attention right now of course.

    Oddly enough a quick google search showed the following (im sure other sites will show some different titles, but you can bet photoshop and/or premiere and/or the entire Creative suite will be on any list)

    Top 10 Most Pirated Software:

    Adobe Photoshop (CS6 to be exact)
    Microsoft Office 2010
    Microsoft Windows 8
    Nero 12
    Microsoft Windows 7
    Avast Anti-Virus Home Edition
    Adobe Premiere
    Virtual DJ
    Power ISO

  • Chris is right. Adobe have done this for a reason.

    To answer Mikes question. Yes, Adobe do know what it feels like to have someones hand in their pocket. Take a look at how many Pirate copies of their software are out there.

    Photographers would not be happy at every Tom, Dick and Harry helping themselves to their images neither are Adobe when it comes to their work. This is their solution. IMHO more software companies will follow suite.

  • Chris, you hit it on the head and your last sentence is probably the most accurate. Frankly, I think it is the ‘new challenge’ that will dominate. Did the pirates do it initially for a profit motive? No, they give it away. They did it because of the challenge and that ‘to show I can’ motivation will continue.

    As a business person I don’t mind the subscription, because I don’t pay it…my customers do. Plus it is a tax deduction, so technically everyone else pays it for me. Thank you very much. But take the business hat off and be John Q Public and it is a whole different senario. If all software companies shift to a subscription service, then you reach a point of saturation much quicker. Microsoft $99/yr for Office, Adobe $49/mo, ProductX $20/mo, ProductY $30/mo, ProductZ $25/mo. YOu get my drift. People will become exceeding selective, consider cheaper alternatives and or piracy. Reality is, less will be sold.

  • I for one, will NOT be going to the subscription cloud. Actually you are already only purchasing usage rights and receive the software on disc to use. Now, Adobe is not giving you a disc, keeping the software with themselves and charging you a lot more for usage rights. Call it what ever you want! It is a money grab and one more way Adobe wants to get into your pocket. I will be using the product for a while longer but the price is WAY to high for an occasional user to subscribe. There are free programs out there like Gimp and far less expensive programs like Corels Print Shop, ACDSee Pro, and others. Would anyone like to submit an Alternatives list for Photoshop and Lightroom for us to check out?
    Have you tried alternate programs? Which ones and how do they work?

  • I am happy to pay the subscription and do so. I want to work with quality software which is updated regularly. Paying the subscription is much cheaper than buying the Creative Suite outright for me in NZ. No, I don’t use all software but I don’t have a problem with that. If you are running a business and work out your costs properly then the subscription is part of your fee.
    There is a belief ‘out there’ that the right to use cheap or pirated software is ‘O.K.’ Many people have no idea how long it takes to create this software, the number of man hours involved in creating and marketing. The creators also have to put food on the table.
    Many photographers don’t want their own photos copied or pirated. Why should anyone have their work ripped off by others? If you value what you produce whether you are a professional or amateur creative is it not nice to be acknowledged and rewarded for it?

  • This really isn’t anything new, gaming software companies were losing millions and started this years ago to combat piracy and it proved to be a success.

    They made their games require key code to allow you to play online, which is where 90% of the money making games are played. Every time you log in to play the game it checks the key code, you can get the game from wherever you want (use a friends disk, download a torrent etc), but you must ultimately pay for a working key code.

    Hackers cant pirate the key, and the games are pretty much useless without the keys.

    Whats interesting is that it took companies like adobe so long to follow.

    You hit it right on the head. As a business owner your software is a tax deduction and you can factor the price in your pricing if need be.

    Adobe will probably lose 30% (guessing?) of their users, but they probably already know that those people were stealing from them anyway. They must be pretty confident that the majority will continue to use their service. In the gaming industry kids (and their parents) are forking out INSANE amounts of money for the games, the kid plays it 3 months, gets bored and gets the latest and greatest new one.

    I think there are alot of people out there with copies of 20-30 different software just because they can and they actually didnt have to pay anything for it. In the end these people are the problem and the reason for this subscription service. It forces them to actually BUY only what they in fact need and stop stealing.

    In all honesty, if a business (big or small) cant afford $240 a year for photoshop… as a business owner you have far more problems then this subscription service.

    Even if you are barely in business, do 120 shoots a year and added $2 per shoot you covered your expense, and you still get a tax break.

    I have no issues at all with what Adobe is doing and fully expect the rest of the software industry to follow at some point.

  • Sign of the times? Not happy after paying so much to Adobe for products in the past..but it feels like a wave of change that we will soon see entrenched across the web..Adobe is in fact just a little slower than most at joining in!

  • Photoshop CC has some interesting new features. My favorite is the ability to use Camera Raw as a smart filter.

    You can watch a video about some of the new features here:

    For me, I don’t mind paying the monthly subscription because I also use other programs; like Illustrator, Dreamweaver, and I want to start to learning Premiere Pro. I mainly use Dreamweaver to create professional looking html emails. I’m also a freak about having the best software available for a smooth workflow and a creative edge.

  • People flip out when Adobe raises the price by (worst case) a few hundred dollars. Sonny says this is enough to put him out of business — WOW! That’s what I call living on the edge!

    Canon introduces the 5dMiii and ups the price by several hundred and no one seems to notice. Weird.
    Sorry guys, but if $20 or $40 or $100 a month is that big of a hit to your business, especially when it’s for a product that you rely on for producing your end product (and let’s face it – many RE photographers would be incapable of producing a deliverable photo without Photoshop), then your business was not viable to begin with.

  • $50 a month is nothing. I find it works better than the basically yearly fee for upgrades.

    If you cannot afford $50 per month for the suite or $20 for the standalone then I think one should relook at your business model. That is less than what I charge for 30 minutes work. Without these programs I cannot make a decent living and it also increases my productivity

  • The people with such an issue with subscription service need to get some perspective:

    Photoshop works out to be .66 cents a day

    Creative Suite works out to be $1.65 a day

    I would bet that most of them spend 2-3x that on coffee a day without blinking an eye….

    I also cant believe that the above costs are so high that some people are actually threatening to switch to a clearly inferior products like GIMP, Corel Paint Shop etc to run their business…thats scary! Something doesn’t add up….If those products are “just as good”, why were you using adobe products all these years? Especially when Adobe has always been more expensive?

  • Chris, on your list I am wondering why anyone would pirate Windows 8…just say’n.

    More to the point, all the cost accounting disussed above is for business useage and I agree 100%. The problem is businesses (usually) cease to exist before the person ceases to exist – sometimes several times as businesses either fold or ar sold to other persons. It is those persons that are trained in those products that Adobe is writing off focusing by focusing on the shorter lifespan businesses where the cost can be justified as it is passed on to customers. I a couple years when I sell the business and retire, doesn’t mean that I give up on photography as that will probably continue until I am 6′ under. I am already brainstorming ‘projects’ not PFRE related. The economics change significantly though as a monthly subscription becomes a drag on fixed income – just as it is a drag on every non-business non-professional’s income. Then the issue becomes, do I continue to use what I know like the back of my hand or do I learn (or re-learn in my case) a different software. And don’t assume that it is the cheaper one produce subscription as most would tag in a second one.

    I didn’t begin using Photoshop until I created the business, and then picked up Dreamweaver, Illustrator, In-Design, Premiere Pro, and After Effects. That is what I meant above that the single subscription is unrealistic as people will progress to at least one of the others. The reason for the shift to Photoshop was that customers expect the Mercedes, not the Ford when both will go from point A to point B. Prior to that I used Paint Shop since it was a shareware program (the Gimp of yesteryear) occasionally upgrading during the JASC and Corel ownership. It is not as inferior as projected by others earlier, as historically will do 90-95% of what Photoshop will do and probably forced Adobe to not only create Elements but to not water down the features in Elements more as the needed to compete at that pricepoint. Frankly, when retired, it won’t be a hard decision to go back to PS Pro (still getting upgrade offers), dump Premiere for FCP, some other HTML editor (WordPress??), and and some other graphics/design/authoring software (Draw, Quark, iBooks, etc). Sure, I didn’t use Adobe products prior to creating a business, but don’t assume “private individuals pirated the software anyway.” There are other alternatives that Adobe is pushing that larger population to.

  • I can’t live without photoshop although in many ways it has become way more complicated than is required for most “photographic” requirements: eg my clients don’t want me to create 3d animations … yet! Paying by monthly fee for Photoshop CC (17.58 pounds sterling in the UK : that’s actually $26.74 per month !!) is about double what I was paying for approx two yearly upgrades to the program. As Larry says, for those RE shooters on a tight budget, Lightroom 5 is really packing a lot of features for a fixed fee, plus more and more folk are creating sophisticated and reasonably priced plug-ins for it. I think it’s possible to make do with just that : it’s only the really hard nuts to crack that need complex work in photoshop. It’s just that when you’ve enjoyed that extended functionality it would be very hard not to use it. So I’ll pay my dues to Adobe: hopefully their profits will soar as a result and we’ll see even better refinement of REP-relevant features as they plough funds back into R&D!

  • Piracy cannot possibly be the reason for switching to a monthly subscription. Remember dongles? They are still valid anti-piracy measures. I have a USB stick attached to my pc for my copy of Reason (music software). Adobe could just as easily have a USB stick for all of their creative suite software.

    And let’s not forget the Steam client. It’s quite adept at keeping piracy at bay by requiring online key verification. Sure, there are a few stragglers who still use AOL dial-up and don’t want to be hassled by online verification, but for most of the civilized world this is an easy and secure way to validate software.

    So if we have two long-established technologies to prevent piracy, what is the real reason behind this move? Depending on the company, it could be one of several reasons:

    1 – The company wants a more reliable and steady stream of revenue to encourage continual software growth and development.

    2 – As an offshoot of #1, it allows software companies to make more gradual updates rather than develop behind the scenes until they feel they have another $300 worth of updates to sell one-off.

    3 – It’s the perfect choice for those with GAS (gear acquisition syndrome). Who wouldn’t want immediate access to the latest and greatest version of their favorite software?

    I for one will never go subscription-based with my software. I’d like to know that the software is MINE and even if I lose my income, I can still have my dear old Photoshop to play with even if it is *gasp* 6 months old. There will be no repo on my CS2 and LR4 because I OWN the license.

  • I should clarify my comment. It bites because I paid for cs5.5 less than a year ago, and paid top dollar and can’t get updates for a reasonable period of time. Plus talking to support is dreadful…what happened to doing right by the customer who paid the premium for the license and has a reasonable expectation? And who has a documented history of buying products… I dropped a friend off at the Mercedes dealership and you should see how well they are treated! Adobe should be ashamed for not doing better for their paying customers. I do well because I give great service to my customers.

    I am actually excited about having the access to additional programs. I am a daily user of indesign, PS, and dreamweaver. I hired an assistant who has premiere. Now we can also use after affects. Can’t wait til I find time!

    I pay as I go, and it is nice to know that something is paid for and has a shelf life. The times are a changing…

  • Wow, I cannot believe (or rather I can, but wish I couldn’t) all these ridiculous responses… First and foremost, if you are spending any time on the net you know of the severity of the Piracy abound everywhere. Piracy helps those who don’t care, and hurts those of us who are honest. Which has brought the age of Subscription software to a whole new level.

    To those who don’t seem to know, Photoshop, and really the entire Creative Suite was/is designed for professionals, or aspiring professionals who are already fairly successful. This is not meant for basic at home editing, or once a month editing. Adobe’s products were designed for the daily/hourly use clientele. If you think $50/month is steep how did you ever convince yourself to spend a few grand on the initial purchase? As Chris said, “Photoshop works out to be .66 cents a day. Creative Suite works out to be $1.65 a day.” If this isn’t affordable to your business, no matter how small, then I am worried for your company. I’d pay $2 a day just to be able to edit photos, and as LarryG said your customers and our tax payers pay it for you, assuming you use this for business purposes, even if you are the sole employee of your own photographic business.

    I believe the biggest concern that most people haven’t said, but have made clear in my mind, is that you lose your ability to decide when and if to upgrade. As professionals we are assuming that you upgrade at least every two years, but I’m sure some of us (including my father) are still running CS3 or earlier. Meaning they have spent far less than the average user who has upgraded more often. Personally I upgrade every time, so this issue is null for me, but I can see where some people will dislike the loss of choice. My biggest concern is when they make an update, which will not really be a choice to accept, that messes with the functionality. I hope this is something they take into consideration, but isn’t enough of an issue for me to avoid the subscription, especially when you have the choice to learn and use any and all of the software included in the cloud suite, instead of just the few that came with the suite you initially chose.

    I apologize for the long rant, but this is something I see all too often, people mad about something they never had a reason to be involved with in the first place. If you don’t use it often enough to justify $20-$50/month then why do you care enough to complain?

  • One issue to my mind would be Bridge. Do you lose access to the photos you store on it? That’s a big deal.

  • @Ruthmarie – No, if you start using Creative Cloud you don’t loose anything. Files are still on your machine unless you choose to put them in the cloud. The only thing that is different with CC is that you don’t have an install disk and the software installed on your machine periodically checks with “the Cloud” to make sure you are still subscribed.

  • Thanks Larry! That helped.

  • How long will my Adobe CS 4 last, I think for a few more years. It works just fine for what I do. Would I like to have all the new features, sure. It is necessary to have all those features, probably not. I think I can do my part to take Adobe to the edge of failure. Hopefully everyone will consider their purchases with deep consideration and not just rush out to get the latest and greatest version. For the most part, the graphics/creative world is working and doing just fine with the current software that is available. People are making money as I write this. If they do not have the latest software from Adobe, will their world come to a screeching halt, I think not. Observation: Be careful Adobe, be really careful.

  • I prefer to purchase a one time license over the subscription model for most software. It’s not the cost per year that I don’t like, it’s having to pay the rent in December when I need every dime I have. I would love to have the option of renting some software such as InDesign that I would use only a few times a year and purchasing a perpetual license for Photoshop since I use that just about every day.

    My biggest concern is not being able to control software updates. I am not entirely sure about how it’s handled with the Creative Cloud, but how often do we hear that the latest release of an OS or update on a major software package breaks the system. I generally like to wait a while before I update something as central to my workflow as Photoshop and Lightroom to make certain that I am not going to lose a few days of work while an update to the update is released and I can restore or re-index my data. Another concern is the times I take a hiatus from photography. I went back to being a rocket scientist for a few years after the magazine I was working for flipped on its back and twitched before lying still. I still had a functioning copy of PS and LR that I could use for my personal projects without having to shell out $20/month or deal with learning a new interface. As I wasn’t making any money to speak of in photography while doing engineering work, I curtailed my investments in photography related gear and software. It’s nice that I didn’t have to pay Canon a monthly fee for the firmware in the camera.

    Chris’s list of the most pirated software above is a bit misleading. I just read the abstract of a study released in the last week and the most pirated software are Microsoft’s operating systems (XP, 7, 8) and MS Office (54%). Photoshop came in at 15% and Adobe CS at 10%. I’m sure that Adobe is concerned, but many studies have shown that simply counting the number of downloads is not any sort of indicator of lost sales. Some people collect titles and others might install the program, try it out, and never use it again. PS and the CS package are a fair amount of money to purchase and make a bigger prize for crackers and collectors. I believe the ultimate software prize for crackers and collectors was/is an application for calculating satellite orbits. At $249k it’s definitely a niche product, but I don’t think the company needs to worry too much about piracy. It would show up like a beacon with legitimate users as there are a limited number customers that would have a need for it and any pirates are very unlikely to have ever purchased a copy.

    Adobe should really try to market PS Elements better. The price point is much more accessible and it does pretty much anything a photographer needs. Elements is also a good training package for Photoshop. I know some people who have acquired an “evaluation” version of PS to learn how to use it to get a job. Poor college students and those between jobs would have a hard time justifying the purchase price of PS.

    Adobe going to the Creative Cloud is a big move and people generally don’t like change. If it doesn’t work out, maybe they will go to a dual model where a perpetual license can be purchased or one can rent the software by the day, week, month or year. I am surprised that they didn’t do it this way initially. There are other companies have a split model for engineering software. Some offer many tiers of purchasing options based on license term, support, updates and maintenance.

  • If Adobe products had been more reasonably priced in the past there would be little problem with piracy and, of course, there is always those who want to cheat. But if they think changing to a subscription service will help, I’m afraid they are mistaken. Some 14 year old in Sweden will have CC pirated in a few hours.
    The real issue is pure and simple greed. Adobe doesn’t care about their customers, it’s only the share holders that count. Small businesses get hurt in the long run but Adobe seems to assume everybody is a “global” enterprise and has a large monthly cash flow. It may seem cheap at $9.95 or $19.95 to start, but just like your cable bill, there is nothing to keep it from climbing higher and higher. It doesn’t take a mathematical genius to figure out that in the long run you are paying much more for the software and nothing to prove for it if you end your subscription. I’ve seen a demo on the new features in CC and they are minor new features geared mostly to illustrators and graphic artists who have the Photoshop Extended software. Most of the new features would elicit a “skip it” reaction from me and not worth upgrading from CS6.
    So we are asked to subscribe in perpetuity in hopes that Adobe will provide us with anything but the nebulous tweaks they are offering in CC. Sure, for those lucky photographers that get $5000 a shoot, the monthly bill is not even worth mentioning. But for small businesses, like most real estate photography enterprises, the cost of software rental is a issue and the inability to control upgrades, etc. is a real deal killer. Hopefully, some enterprising software code writer is out there right now developing a product that can either be a real operational replacement for Photoshop or will allow you to continue to use CS6 on the new operating systems in the future.

  • I know what I’m about to say is like the turd in the punch bowl. But hardware and software junkies hear this. Photoshop Elements is a wonderful tool that does most of what RE photographers need. If you precede it with Photomatix for blending and end with plug-ins like available from Topaz Labs, well it doesn’t get a lot better even if your throw big money at it. Do a cost analysis based on customer needs, not your need for cool stuff.

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