Creative Suite 6 subscription plans announced

Adobe's Creative Suite is to become an $80-a-month subscription service, with discounts for people who accept annual contracts: just like cellphones! Thankfully, you can still buy the retail version of the suite in various pre-set bundles: just like cable television!

... the company expects that most of its users will slowly migrate to the subscription service over time. In Adobe’s view, this gives users more flexibility to use apps when they need them ... while Morris stressed that the subscription service shouldn’t be seen solely as a way to combat piracy, he did acknowledge that it has the potential to help Adobe with its piracy problem.

If we have to ruin our product to stop people pirating it, by God we will do just that. [Frederic Lardinois at TechCrunch]


  1. For a software service that sees constant modification and improvement, on a monthly basis, this makes sense.

    Unfortunately, photoshop is not such a beast.  I  can get a 3 year old copy and still make pretty awesome shit.

    1. And, in fact, many of us started on 3 year old pirated copies and then switched to the latest suites once we got ourselves into real jobs.

      As a teacher and writer (that is, not a graphic artist), I know I’d definitely not be a fan and a customer now if I hadn’t had the chance to screw around with PS and PageMaker for free as a kid.

      1.  I am a graphic designer and if I never had a pirated copy of Photoshop and Indesign I would never have learned the software and never gotten the job I have today.

        Or else I would have mastered some free Photoshop clone and then recommended using it at my work rather than pay for some Adobe software I didn’t know how to use.

  2. Dear Lord, this is the electronic version of “New Coke”

    Now taking bets on how long until they announce they aren’t going to do it at all.

    1. They’re steering the entire company towards being a SaaS provider; there is no way back and no Plan B. The shrinkwrap option is there as legacy; in a couple of years I bet this will change, or it will become even more hideously expensive than it is now, and it will carry a DRM-enforced time limit anyway.

  3. How is this ruining the product in any way?  You don’t have to buy the subscription… you can still purchase the full suite of products.  All they’re doing is adding more payment options, which actually benefits everyone.  The only people I see this hurting is people who pirate their software, although I’m sure there will be a workaround within a month like there always is.

    1. And when you say “you can still purchase the full suite of products” you mean apart from the six products that are only available through the subscription service. 

      1. Every major application is available to purchase separately from getting a Creative Cloud subscription.  There are a handful of products that are more or less utilities (and mostly web based) that require a monthly subscription of a few dollars, and have already been subscription based.  I still don’t see the problem.

  4. Nice knee-jerk reaction on this. You should look into this more closely before rushing to judgment. The subscription OPTIONS are not a bad deal, depending on your situation, and where in the upgrade cycle Adobe is at the time you subscribe. And they’re OPTIONAL.

    1.  Yes, the idea is there are a lot of users that only need Photoshop occasionally, like for annual projects, and aren’t going to pay for the outrageously priced software package. This is intended to serve that infrequent customer and expand their user base.

  5. Eventually this subscription thing will be mandatory, just wait. Think about the implications of that–in Adobe’s eyes, infrequent upgrading is tantamount to piracy.

  6. I really don’t see how this will combat piracy. There hasn’t been a release of Creative Suite that hasn’t been comprehensively cracked to date, and I don’t see any reason why this release will be any different.

    The way I see it, the increased faff and cost (over time) of legally obtaining the software can only increase the lure of downloading a cracked copy that won’t require any of the activation rigmarole.

    The only way Adobe has (had?) of solving its piracy problem was by dramatically reducing the price. They could rake in thousands if not millions of new customers – people who currently use pirate copies as they can’t afford the steep price. The way to reduce piracy – as we’ve seen with music and Spotify/iTunes – is to make it easier to obtain the goods legally than it is to get them illegally. In this respect Adobe has taken a huge step backwards.

    1. How is it difficult to get Adobe products?  You go to the website, enter your payment information, and download.  Now you can do it for much cheaper since they offer the products as a subscription instead of an upfront cost.  I’m sure they’ll have more paying customers now thanks to this.  For what their product does it isn’t overpriced.  People make a lot of money using Creative Suite.  It’s not meant for everyone… it’s meant for professionals.  Now this subscription model allows amateurs and hobbyists a legal way to use the product as well.  I don’t see any negatives to this new service.

      1. Cheaper *up-front*. You’ll end up spending a lot more on the product over time. I’m aware activation software can be almost seamless, but I’ve also used Origin.

        1. It sounds like you have no idea what you’re talking about, and are just typing to see your name in the comments.

          “The only way Adobe has (had?) of solving its piracy problem was by dramatically reducing the price”

          This OPTIONAL payment course does effectively “dramatically reduce the price.” Depending on how long you subscribe.

          “The way to reduce piracy – as we’ve seen with music and Spotify/iTunes – is to make it easier to obtain the goods legally”

          Again, that is exactly what this does. Can you read?

          1. Less of the personal attacks please. 

            As for ‘how long you subscribe’, how many businesses, or animators such as yourself, only want a piece of software for a month or two? With the current pricing it will only take you a year before you’ve paid more overall than the price of the previous edition.The music industry was suffering hugely at the hands of Napster etc. as they provided an easier method of getting music than the record companies did. Now that people can download high quality DRM-free music from a number of sites, and listen to any track for free on Spotify, the amount being made by selling music online is quickly eclipsing revenue from CDs. 

            The way to reduce piracy is to reduce the effort for consumers. Adobe cling to the notion that their software is ‘worth’ a certain amount of money. I am firmly of the belief that they would make more money selling it for less.

        2. Unless I’m missing something, you’ll only be spending significantly more if you go with the month to month option. The annual rate is $50 (monthly), or $600 a year compared to $525 to upgrade or $2600 new.

          For someone like me who has a couple year old version of Photoshop (CS3), this is a significantly cheaper option to get the full suite and will take several years before it starts to become more expensive (assuming the prices stay about the same).

      2. In a changing job landscape where independent contractors are becoming par for the course this allows freelancers a way to stay up to date without huge up front costs. Most professionals are becoming pluralist and need access to different software on a project by project basis and this also accommodates that. I, for one will be taking advantage of the subscription.

  7. For small businesses just starting up, the subscription options are a god-send as they allow you to do the legal thing without having spend thousands of dollars you don’t have.
    They’ve been doing this for a while in Australia and as far as I know it’s been working pretty well for all concerned.

  8. Ruining?! The subscription option is fucking amazing. I get access to the entire Creative Suite and never have to worry about version upgrade costs, all for less than the cost of my cell phone bill or my cable bill?

    My design/video software costs (thousands of dollars) just became a $80 monthly utility bill, and I couldn’t be happier.

  9. I have a hard time seeing this lease deal as a bad thing.

    CS5 was released almost exactly two years ago. For the sake of argument, I’ll assume that CS7 will be released in another two years. If you sign up for the annual contract, you’ll pay $1200 over two years, and have access to the mega-super-everything version. Or you can spend $1200 up front for the most limited version.

    Admittedly, Adobe products have always been extremely expensive, and this doesn’t do much to make them less expensive—it just spreads the pain out over more time. But that does make them more accessible

    1.  Not true. Theoretically, you only buy the license for the times when you need to use it in production. Even without the contract that’s say $100 for two months of subscription vs. $1900 up front. Cancel your subscription for the rest of the year when work is finished, and you’ve saved $1800

          1.  Umm, no, actually. I’d subcontract the job to somebody else who has the software and knows how to use it rather than buy and learn it myself, if I had such a need.

        1. I use some of the Adobe tools as an adjunct to my main business- they are important to have, but not used all that often. So I haven’t upgraded since CS3.  I you are a graphic designer, sure, you will be using them every day. For us, it ties more into product development cycles. 

          Some of the other tools we use- in CAD and embedded design- are much more expensive than the Adobe CS suite, and are moving towards a subscription option.  For many users, that makes better financial sense.  Also, (caveat- I am not an accountant) a subscription to the software is a direct business expense, while a purchase must be depreciated over years- usually more years that the software’s actually useful lifespan. Depending on your tax situation, that could lower the effective cost of a subscription. 

  10. I can see less benefits for Photoshop users or casual users, but as a corporate InDesign user, where file compatibility between versions even 0.5 releases apart is a major pain in the ass, anything that helps more people stay current rather than using old versions, is easier for everyone. Yes, this is a problem Adobe created in the first place, but not completely maliciously as there have been vast differences between releases so it’s (sometimes) understandable why things won’t ‘just work’, but whatever – if this means I can convince my employer to keep paying for upgrades promptly, and also make it easier for the freelancers I work with to get up to date meaning I spend less time moving beween multiple machines with different versions to save down, then I’m happy.

    1. but as a corporate InDesign user, where file compatibility between versions even 0.5 releases apart is a major pain in the ass, anything that helps more people stay current rather than using old versions, is easier for everyone.
      THIS. I hate the fact that they up grade to CSX.52578 or whatever always requires an export into .idml before you can read it in a different version.

  11. Please for the love of god do this times a million. I am so tired of stupid photoshop being this ugly block between people and computer aptitude. Photoshop is so damn expensive and now so damn skewed away from casual use. I would gladly have Adobe crumble as a company so that we can get more photoshop style tools, tailored to a more diverse audience.

  12. Listen Rob I understand ALL BIG COMPANIES ARE EVIL but seriously, this is a good thing. Care to explain how they are breaking or ruining their product? Have you even seen or understood the changes in AE and Premiere Pro in CS6? Premiere is the FCP killer now. AE has true, CUDA-accelerated 3D rendering. These are major technological advances and as an animator / editor I’m extremely excited.

  13. As if someone won’t come up with a hack to circumvent the subscription requirement within a week of release.

    Really, the only way to get people to stop pirating stuff is to make it so affordable that it’s just easier to pay for it legally. Just look at Apple’s OS X, where the latest version (Lion) cost $20 and downloaded directly onto your computer without hassle. Sure you could’ve pirated it, but for $20 I would imagine that most people went with the hassle-free, legal option.

    1.  Agreed. But Adobe like being exclusive. Adobe would rather sell one unit at $500 than five units for $100 each. Even though in this age of no-packaging, they’d make just as much money (maybe more) by selling their products affordably. They make wonderful products, but they’re obscenely overpriced.

    1.  I’m licensed for PhotoShop CS3 and honestly, I will probably never upgrade unless I go to a new employer where they will need to purchase a new licenses for me. My use is not so very technical that all the bells and whistle’s matter to me. But when I need the horsepower and tools, I have more than enough to work with even if I keep CS3 forever.

      I’ve used GIMP in the past with mixed results, but I think my hardware wasn’t up to the task. GIMP 2.6 runs really well on a 64-bit in win7, so I’m digging in to learn another tool. Being able to transport the skill onto a Linux workstation is one big reason I want to learn GIMP.

      I’d really love to completely drop windows.

  14. Actually this sounds like it could be a good idea… as long as they’re still allowing customers to buy the suite outright. Spending up to $2,600 per workstation for software alone could be a prohibitive cost barrier for a small startup, that’s why so many retailers offer leasing options for hardware.

  15. For professional work packages, I wonder how much revenue is actually generated FROM early life piracy when users educate themselves, create novice content, share experiences of otherwise inaccessible software, and push for these products later in their professional careers.
    I know I would have very little knowledge of Adobe, AutoDesk products had I not been “dabbling” back then. When you are young you have time to study, not money to buy.
    Has anyone ever written on this politically incorrect “ROI”?

    1. I’m having a hard time agreeing with the majority of boingboing commenters. I also wouldn’t have the same understanding of the creative suite if I hadn’t pirated it early on. Buying PS was simply out of the question in the 5th grade.I brought this up in class and not one student has a personal copy of PS that they paid for.  Point I’m trying to make: Adobe needs to remember who their audience is.

      1.  you’re right. And their audience is professionals in their respective industries who can afford to pay for things they use to make money. Not 5th graders. LOL

          1.  And while they’re in design school, they can qualify for the educational version of the Adobe products. And afterwards, once they get employed, they either get the Adobe product purchased for them by their employer, or they can buy or rent it for themselves. Problem solved. Thanks, Adobe!

        1. As a professional in the industry, I can tell you that Adobe’s prices have been anything BUT affordable for many years. You end up swallowing the cost, because you pretty much have to. That’s not the same as being able to “afford” it.

        2. Its not just 5th graders. Many years ago I was having a change of career. I got pirates of InDesign and Photoshop which I couldn’t afford any other way. I spent months teaching myself and getting into part time courses. Its 12 years later and I’m a design professional employed full-time and got the university faculty I work for buy the CS suite to work with. I can’t be that unusual that learning on a pirate version led to actual sales.

        3.  That’s like saying that Word is only for authors, and everyone else should go stuff it.

          1.  Actually, that’s not a bad idea. But maybe I think that because I hate Word, and think fewer people should be using it.  :)

        4. The industry wouldn’t exist today if kids hadn’t been pirating the software 15 years ago. Period.

      1. Hell yes it did. For most of Quark’s run you needed third-party plugins just for simple features like collecting files for output or high-res page previews. All that came standard in the first version of InDesign at a small fraction of the price.

  16. Excuse me, Adobe?!
    My rates have had to do nothing but go DOWN in the past decade… Why don’t you apply for government bailout money like Big Oil and the Banks… That way your customers could afford the continued use your products.

    1.  Last year’s Photoshop subscription yearly month-to-month price was $40/mo. It’s now going to be $20/mo. The price automatically reduces if you do nothing, and you get the new version. Last year’s CS subscription yearly month-to-month was over $100 ($120? Can’t remember). Now it’s going to be $50/mo (or $30/mo for the first year if you are renewing from a qualifying product – the plain Photoshop subscription qualifies!). These are -SIGNIFICANT- price cuts; you just haven’t been paying attention.

  17. Not every creative professional, dependent upon Adobe’s ubiquitous product line, is raking it in hand over fist – and once users are forced into a subscription based model adobe will perpetually have it’s hand in your wallet. 

    Piracy concerns aside, for small design houses, is this really practical?
    I notice a lot of snark in this thread form “professionals” (read professionals who work at studios larger than my own) who enjoy condescending to those with a smaller portfolio. 

    I for one will not be able to afford any of Adobe’s proposed plans for even the two workstations in my humble shop.

    But hey, Adobe has what they have wanted for a decade – total market domination made off the backs of their users; legitimate and otherwise. Users at my level will mean less and less to them every fiscal year.

  18. Your comparisons to cellphone plans and cable television are apt. Unfortunately, you omitted the fact that you can still buy each individual piece of software as a standalone product without any subscription or bundle…just like you always could!

  19. Adobe pretty much has a monopoly on the tools bundled into ‘Creative Suite’. Either you play ball (or use an old version or a pirated version) or you do without.

    P.S. Photoshop 5.5 does everything I need to do.  Don’t need no stinkin’ Illustrator — I use Freehand (one of several products for which Adobe has discontinued support). But I can’t function without InDesign CS. Guess I’m hooked.

  20. Yeah, put me in the “I don’t get the outrage” category.  I’ve never bothered to get CS or any of it since 2001.  Now that I upgraded to Lion I lost all my Adobe programs.  This is a much cheaper alternative to buying the equivalent of a new laptop every time they upgrade.  I may own Adobe stuff again!

  21. $960.00 a year? Ouch.

    Also this will never backfire because people never use CS Suite when they aren’t connected to the internet.m (rolls eyes)

    1. $960.00 a year? Ouch.

      That sounds like (and is) a lot of money, but if you’re a design professional who needs to keep your copy of Creative Suite up to date then you could easily have spent that much on regular upgrades under their old pricing structure. Adobe is wringing their customers for as much cash as they can but it’s not like that’s anything new.

      1. I bought CS5 and it will serve me well for 3+ years. If I was using a subscription service it would cost me 3 times as much as just buying the suite outright. Not having the latest and greatest version of photoshop doesn’t diminish my abilities as a designer.

        1. Not having the latest and greatest version of photoshop doesn’t diminish my abilities as a designer.

          Of course it doesn’t, but if you had a design studio or print shop that had to deal with third-party files created with the latest versions of the software you’d be forced to upgrade regularly anyway.

          1. But I don’t have a design studio or print shop, I am just a one man show… hence the jist of my comment…

          2. @inkfumes:disqus So don’t go with the subscription plan option and don’t upgrade any more often than you have to—problem solved. But that option does sound like it might be a good idea for many professionals who are in a different situation than you are.

    2.  Only if you pay $80/month on month-to-month. Pay the year in advance at $50/month and it’s $600/year.

      That’s less than $2/day for access to the full suite. Not free, and from some perspectives not cheap, but I paid about $650 for Photoshop CS5 alone last year. Sure, now I wish I had waited, but $600/year to never have to worry about it again and always be on the bleeding edge of everything is going to be worth it for me.

      1. If you’re renewing or upgrading from something else (my Photoshop subscription from last year qualified), you may qualify for an even lower rate – $30/mo for the first year, for the whole suite. That is a pretty great deal.

  22.  Did government bail-outs reduce ANYONE’s expenses for fuel or housing when I wasn’t looking? Really?

  23. I started using Photoshop when it was version 1.0. I use many other products in their suite. I learned all of these products on the job, often learning only from their manuals and training videos and online materials. 

    I work in the software development industry and I am a high end user of word processing, page layout, and illustration tools. Over the years, Adobe has done what no other company has done, in my opinion. They have produced truly excellent products, they have continued to innovate and develop their products year after year, and they have provided some of the most comprehensive training tools of any company. Their products are market dominant because they are the savviest software company I have seen over the course of a career of 20 years in R&D software development.

    I’ve worked with Framemaker, Quark, Freehand, a Unix product called Interleaf – these are all products of similar caliber (I know Adobe brought Frame awhile back but they did not develop it originally) and while these all had their time and were all good products in their own way, none of these companies has sustained a business model like Adobe has. 

    I, personally, think this change in how they deliver their product is a good one and will be welcomed by the professional community that relies on their products for their livelihood. 

    Just as an aside, I remember when Acrobat was introduced and they were giving out free copies of it at the trade shows. None of my group could quite figure out what the need was for this product (everything was delivered as print then). Seems like Adobe has stayed one step ahead of everyone for quite some time.

  24. As a Master Suite user, I’ve paid the old way and today signed up to pay the new way.  With the tight economy, I have avoided upgrading for a few years.  But I knew the time was coming, especially as my version, CS3, is 32bit.  Rather than face about a $2000 or so upgrade, I get the first year for $360.  I don’t want to sound like a shill for Adobe, but I need the newer versions of my apps for a music video I am doing (on a very low budget) and was worrying about the cost.  This subscription model really helps.

  25. Upgrade the whole suite (design standard) for $275.

    The subscription makes no financial sense unless you are starting from an outdated (or no) version of the software, and if you’re a design professional, you already have some previous version of the suite and can upgrade for cheaper than paying monthly.

    It seems to me that it can be seen as a ploy to get current users to pay for apps they don’t need or, it could be seen as lowering the price of admission.  The full price option will hopefully always be there for the old-timers, but it won’t make as much sense to anyone who jumps on with the subscription model now.

  26. If you look at Adobes actual pricing, it’s not a terrible deal (which is not to say it’s a great deal) it’s $80 a month if you go month to month but $49 a month ($600 per year) if you buy annually. And that’s for the entire suite plus cloud services. To buy it outright it’s $2500 and then updates run about $600-$900 every year and a half or so. So you get everything for about what it used to cost for an upgrade every year.

  27. Cards on the table, part of my living involves selling Adobe software for a living. And other pro-media software, and hardware, and fun stuff. Yay. I used to not be able to stand Adobe. They have made significant strides in the past few years in dramatically improving their relationship with reseller/integrators like me, and more importantly, their end users. They seem to have given up on trying to take over all video on da interwebs (bad) and go back to concentrating on making best-of-class software for creative professionals (good).

    A few points.

    Adobe software is not overly expensive. A huge number of people who think Photoshop is overpriced can get away with Elements or Lightroom, which are EXTREMELY inexpensive.

    InDesign single-handedly forced down the price of production-level layout software. Remember something EVIL called Quark? InDesign is a godsend compared to that overpriced shite. Thank Adobe for that. And think about how many PHYSICAL GOODS a single seat of InDesign replaces. It used to be many, many times more expensive to do layout using physical tools, one or two orders of magnitude easily. Adobe was a huge part of bringing those prices down.

    How about for photographers? Try building a dark room with all of the various pieces of equipment that Photoshop and Lightroom replace. A top of the line Mac Pro plus Master Collection is TONS cheaper.

    Don’t even get me started on digital video. The color grading/correction application Speed Grade that is now bundled with Production Premium CS6, a “free” add-on?  A few months ago that software was over $25,000 — yes, just for the software!  And that level of software replaces the, get this, MULTI-HUNDRED-THOUSAND dollar workstation setups that 5-10 years ago were COMMON for full-fledged color grading and correction.  I tend to sell Production Premium for about $1500. That gets you Speed Grade, PLUS Premiere Pro 6 which Adobe has finally invested massive amounts of energy in making “pro-grade”, plus their media transcoding application (or you can buy Episode Pro by itself for $1000 from Telestream, if you want) plus Photoshop, plus InDesign, oh and let’s talk about DVD/Blu-ray authoring via Encore, oh yeah, and the multi-track digital audio recording and editing application that is bundled with the package…..

    Yeah. Adobe is NOT expensive. I can think of dozens of pieces of software that are an order of magnitude OR TWO more expensive that cater to the creative professional market. Shit, there are dozens and dozens of PLUGINS that cost way more than Master Collection.

    I hate it when people whine about pro-level software that costs $1000-$2000 being “too expensive” — especially when it’s practically given away to EDU. If you want to do graphic design, digital photography, layout, video editing, color correction and grading, audio mastering, disc authoring… and you can’t afford CS6 Production Premium or Master Collection, plus a Mac Pro, you need to SERIOUSLY think about pursuing another career. The cost of entry for any of these fields is as low as its ever been, literally CANNOT get any less expensive, and these companies to still exist to make this software. Adobe has probably been one of the biggest forces in bringing the cost of entry for creative professionals DOWN, not the other way around.

    Now, these subscription OPTIONS (not requirements, options) are fantastic for freelancers, and the companies that hire freelancers. You know, the MOST cost-sensitive folks int he creative industries. They can pay to use software for a given project or temporary hire, and not have to pay for it when it’s not in use! Hell, this may be one of the most empowering moves any software company has ever made when it comes to bringing down costs for creative professionals! Adobe should be applauded for coming up with more OPTIONS for their users. Bitch and moan when it stops being optional. But the Adobe I’ve seen over the past couple of years generally seems interested in making their users happy.

  28. It would be better for a lot of people if they’d make lower-priced subscriptions where the user can pick for themselves which software they want, rather than getting the entire suite.

  29. ugh, this is gonna suck for enterprise users who are usually stuck behind heinous proxy and security. Jeeze, if there were something as good. (f-you and your “but what about GIMP”)

    1. For 99% of consumers, absolutely. Just as most people don’t need the full version of Final Cut Pro for editing home movies if they can get a copy of iMovie.

      For professionals… not so much.

  30. I’ve worked as a professional  graphic artist since 1994, having attended the Art Institute of Seattle starting in 1987 (I took a detour into the US Marine Corps before starting my career).  I have to say that I don’t like the way things are going here.  Cory writes about the demise of general computing and this is the start of it.  Once the subscriptions are locked in and the desktop PC goes the way of the dinosaur, all data will be stored in the cloud.  With the subscriptions and cloud storage, scanning every piece of work for copyright infringement will be automatic.  And we can look to the charges being arbitrarily applied with no recourse for challenging them.  No proof of infringement will be needed, either.  The accusation will be enough.

  31. I used to work as a designer, starting with a 2-year-old cracked copy of the CS, in six months with a little study I was doing pre-press design on three computers each with the full paid for suite. You can make a strong argument that the ubiquity of Adobe software due to piracy has made it the market leader.

    That being said, most people don’t have any business using the most up-to-date versions. The worst art we received was from universities with the current software using a bunch of newfangled tools and effects which couldn’t be processed by our printers, thusly, most my job was recreating their effects with an older version so that the files would work.

  32. To get it go to Google, then select More > Even More. It’s listed under the Media category.

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