Clip Studio Paint announces subscription plan, angering the online artist community

Roger Stringer • August 22, 2022

3 min read

Jess Weatherbed, for The Verge:

Celsys announced version 2.0 of Clip Studio Paint, its popular digital illustration and animation software, alongside plans to move over to a monthly subscription for updates to the service when it launches. It’s left some longtime fans who praised it for its one-time purchase model feeling very betrayed.

An announcement on the Clip Studio website states that “from 2023 onwards, the current Version 1 (the one-time purchase, perpetual version for Windows/macOS, ‘Version 1.x’ hereafter), offered as a download and physical version will no longer receive feature updates free of charge.”

This has subsequently outraged members of the artist community, who previously heralded the service as a fantastic one-time purchase alternative to software as a service applications like Adobe Photoshop, effectively adopting a similar business model that fans of Clip Studio Paint were trying to avoid in the first place.

The announcement was accompanied by a confusing flowchart detailing the benefits of the upgrade packages on offer. Those who remain on a perpetual license for version 1.x will not get any additional updates from the point of Version 2.0’s release in 2023. Buying a perpetual license for version 2.0 will grant you access to the base version but will not include any additional updates from 2.1.0 onward.

Because of these changes, consumers could feel forced into accepting the third option, a subscription for existing users called an “Upgrade Pass” that is valid for one year, which will update their existing 1.x version to 2.0 and continue updating it to include additional upgrades and new features as they release.

When Adobe similarly moved applications like Photoshop and Illustrator onto a cloud-based software as a service model back in 2012, those who couldn’t afford (or didn’t want to pay for) a rolling monthly or annual expense sought out new, more affordable alternatives.

[...] Pricing for the Upgrade Pass and the standalone version 2.0 software has yet to be revealed, but the announcement tries to reassure existing customers that “Update Passes will be sold for a lower price than Monthly Usage Plans.” New customers will be able to sign up for a monthly subscription without already having Clip Studio Paint version 1.x.

The brand did specify that Version 2 and onward will have a separate permanent license from version 1.x, so anyone still using version 1.x can continue to do so for as long as their system will continue to support it. At the time of writing, it’s still possible to buy and own the current version of the software, with Clip Studio Paint stating, “We will also provide free stability updates for major bugs or errors caused by the OS or specific devices, into next year and beyond the transition to Version 2.0.”

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