In general, it’s a very poor idea for any company to upset the artistic online community. If enough regular internet users were able to drag the Sonic the Hedgehog movie’s old design through the proverbial mud enough so that the studio completely redesigned it, how do you think you’ll get on when the people behind the pencil become disgruntled enough to let you know via Twitter?
That’s just what happened Monday when the Celsys-owned Clip Studio Paint announced they were introducing a new version of their illustration and animation program, and alongside it create a new subscription-based model. The current version 1—which is a one-time purchase with a base license offered at $49.99 or $219 for the professional version—is being replaced by version 2 that comes with a monthly subscription price tag.
Current users can still hold on to their version 1 license, but the company said that come 2023, they will no longer offer any feature updates for version 1 users. Celsys added it would provide free stability updates for any errors caused by the OS “into next year and beyond the transition to version 2.” Making this move was “necessary,” the company said in order to “sustain the development of the app and keep providing a better creative tool.”
Users took to Twitter to decry the change. As you can expect from an artistic community, the memes were well-produced and pretty on-point. Most negative comments hit upon the point that they went with CSP to avoid paying a monthly subscription for the likes of Photoshop, all while dealing with Adobe’s heavy-handed DRM.
What doesn’t help any of this is the confusing structure for users wishing to upgrade from version 1 to version 2. Existing users of version 1 can purchase a perpetual license for version 2, but they won’t have access to feature updates from 2.1 and onward. Developers will also discontinue support for the perpetual license users when they eventually release version 4. Those looking to keep receiving new features will have to buy a one-year update pass, but the company has not revealed what price points we could see from any of these options.
ArtSpark—which owns Celsys as a subsidiary—declined to comment on the community’s reaction to the announcement though they did clarify that monthly usage plans have been available for multi-device and non-PC users since 2019. Users can also purchase a perpetual license for version 2, but these users will also only receive stability updates. The company wrote they planned to make the switch to version 2 in the first half of 2023.
Some Twitter users were openly sharing links to pirate the CSP software. Photoshop is industry-standard software, so other services have to try and stand out from the pack to get users on board. Photo and art programs like GIMP and Krita, while being somewhat less user friendly, are free and open source, while programs like Paint Tool SAI and Procreate are one time purchases, though that latter program is restricted to iPads and is only purchasable on the App Store.
Photoshop is priced at $20.99 a month or all Adobe apps for $54.99 a month, making it much more costly over time, especially for longtime dabblers and professionals alike. CSP’s move is especially bad timing considering Adobe is also planning to release a stripped-down, free, web-based version of its Photoshop program. The first tests are already underway with Canadian users.