Capture One announces subscription & payment changes, pisses off users

person using capture one

If there’s one thing that many professional photographers can easily get saturated with, it’s endless subscription payments to different software suites for their workflow.

 From storage platforms like Drive or Dropbox to editing and proofing packages like Adobe and Shootproof, the potential for monthly budget drain is all over the place. Now, Capture One wants a bit more of your money too.

In recently-announced changes to its payment and licensing policies, the platform informed users via email of new software release and billing policies that go as follows:

“From 2023 we will no longer be tied to an annual cycle for major releases. As a result, there will not be a Capture One 24. Instead, we will continuously release new tools and features on a rolling basis throughout the year.

Alongside this, we will also be making changes to our perpetual licenses from February 1, 2023. Here’s what’s changing:

  • New perpetual licenses will include updates with bug fixes until the next version, but new features released after purchase will not be included.
  • Upgrade pricing will no longer be available and will be replaced with a new loyalty scheme. More details will be announced on February 1, 2023.”

The new scheme essentially replaces annual software releases and license renewal options with rolling updates and subscription pricing. This will be the only route to new features for those who’ve bought a perpetual license for the most recent previous version of C1.

The specifics of the loyalty scheme for existing users are however still unknown and apparently won’t be divulged until February.

This last detail particularly angered a number of C1 users who argued that withholding it until later keeps them from knowing where the real value lies and thus makes them feel pressured into opting for a subscription plan.

As one user who had already paid for Capture One 23 (its latest release) stated,

“The current 30% discount to upgrade ends at the end of Jan. But they won’t tell us what the new ‘Loyalty Program’ is until Feb 1st. So purposely denying customers the ability to know what is the best route. For all we know, the ‘Loyalty’ prize could be a box of bananas and a cheesecake. Hardly being transparent, is it?”

Another user of Capture One summed up one of the reasons for customer anger by asking:

“So, if I understand correctly, that means that those of us who used to regularly upgrade (upgrades that went from $99 to $199 over a few years already) their perpetual license will now have to buy a full license each time there is a partial release? That is a clever move to go to a subscription-only model without saying it.”

Capture One tried to clarify the situation by elaborating,

“Capture One offers perpetual and subscription licenses for users. The difference between those is the term of validity. A perpetual license is everlasting (for life, providing that you meet the minimum system requirements), while with a subscription plan you have to make regular payments to keep the license active – but you always have access to the latest version.”

In response to an inquiry from the website Fstoppers, C1’s PR and Editorial Manager, Marianna Eliassen further tried to smooth ruffled feathers by explaining,

“Just to be clear, we are not ending perpetual licenses. We know that this option is important to some of our customers, and we are committed to keeping this available for them. Anyone who has bought or will buy Capture One 23 before February 1, 2023, will still enjoy the same benefits as they would with any previous version of the software. After this date, everyone will still be able to buy a perpetual license and fully enjoy the features that come with it in perpetuity.”

She however didn’t directly answer the photography website’s main question, which asked about users feeling misled over having bought C1’s most recent perpetual license without knowing what was coming around the corner.

Unsurprisingly, an overwhelming majority of comments from Capture One’s existing users were very unhappy with these changes.

capture one website screenshot

image: Capture One

The reason why is fairly obvious: Those who have bought C1’s latest perpetual license upgrade, for version 23 of the software, didn’t know that it would so soon be essentially made obsolete. They also have no way of yet knowing what the loyalty scheme will offer.

What’s more, these users have to deal with the fact that new features after C1 version 23 will now only be available via a new system of subscription payments.

Capture One is now basically applying the same product release and payment structure that Adobe already has for its users.

For many existing users of Capture One, the fact that they could use their purchased version of the software without having to pay monthly was one of its major benefits. It left them free to upgrade to a new perpetual license for a newer version whenever they chose. Now this is no longer the case.

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1 Comment

  1. Art Meripol on December 15, 2022 at 4:21 am

    I know many will disagree with me about this. And I know C1’s less than forthcoming attitude isn’t doing them any good. But I’m very happy with the subscription model of Adobe and of C1. Buying it over and over to get upgrades is a ridiculous waste. And I think the costs balance out or are even in my favor, at least with Adobe. I”m a professional and depend on these as much as I depend on anything else in my work. And for their importance to my results they’re one of the cheapest parts of my work. That might not be the case for those who don’t make a living with their images but it’s my personal take.

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