This is What I Get For Shilling a Product

September 2, 2022

You were my brother, Clip Studio Paint! I loved you!

So. If you've read my art materials list, you know what I think of CSP. More accurately, my statements there reflect what I thought about it, because on August 21, 2022, Celsys announced that the next iteration of the software is moving to a subscription model. Furthermore, they chose to outdo themselves by making the most convoluted and infuriating subscription model I've ever seen. I will attempt to explain it in a more comprehensible way here.

The good news: if you have the current release of CSP, referred to as version 1, you will be able to use it forever. If you've been on the fence about getting it, now would probably be a good time. The bullshit starts with version 2.

If you want to get CSP v2 (and versions henceforth), you have three options:

  1. Buy it outright (referred to as a "perpetual license")
  2. Buy a subscription plan billed every month/year
  3. Buy an "Update Pass"

"So you can just get v2 on its own," you say. "Then you can buy it and avoid the subscription!"

If only the world was so simple.

For whatever deranged supervillain reason, if you choose to do the perpetual license option, you will get kicked out of update support starting with v2.1. Currently, the roadmap for v2 has 2.1, 2.2, and 2.3 for major update landmarks. If you want to have access to updates past 2.1, you'll need to pay for the subscription. So much for owning the program.

The subscription plans come in two flavors. There is a traditional subscription plan, which is billed either monthly or yearly. The subscription option is actually available right now, for $4.49 a month or $24.99 a year for the Pro version. The EX version is $8.99 a month or $71.99 a year. According to the FAQ, this price is not expected to change "significantly" with the release of v2.

The other subscription option is the "Update Pass," which is billed yearly, and will reportedly cost less than the monthly plan. Whether it will also be cheaper than the currently-available yearly plan discount remains to be seen. However, you also have to have a perpetual license (v1 or v2) to be able to buy an Update Pass, so I'd wager that the costs end up evening out when you take that into consideration. Once you buy it, you'll have access to software updates for another year. If you let your Update Pass lapse, you're allowed to go back to using the latest version of software that you had a perpetual license for, which... duh? You already bought it. But thank you, Celsys, for your generosity in allowing your users to use software they paid for.

In any case, if you shell out for one of the subscription plans, Celsys will deign to allow you to use an up-to-date version of the software. From my understanding, this same model will apply to v3, and so on. An astute reader will notice that this new business model makes it impossible to ever own a completely up-to-date version of CSP after v1. This is specifically why I find this plan so insulting.

I really don't care that CSP currently has a subscription option, because you can still buy the full version of the software outright and get the bare minimum that you expect from a program you bought (i.e. your copy of the program is supported by the developers until the end of its life). I am also completely fine with having to buy future iterations of CSP because that's how software works (at least until recently). Corel has been releasing versions of Painter for the past 30 years. This is reasonable — you can't expect developers to give you free lifetime version updates for a program because they need to pay for operations somehow.

The issue here is that CSP wants to have its cake and eat it too. I already don't like subscription-only models for software to begin with because I find the trend towards "leasing" digital products incredibly disturbing. Forcing users to pay for a subscription on top of the price they paid for the program is even worse, and, in the end, they won't even own the full program they paid for. It's deceptive, disrespectful, and even more transparent of a moneygrab than a subscription model on its own. I do really mean deceptive: in the blog post, Celsys refers to the perpetual license as a "one-time purchase," presumably to assauge people's fears and prevent them from reading the rest of the text. I think it's fair to assume that this wording will carry over to their advertising.

I wouldn't have blinked if Celsys announced they needed to raise the price on CSP. As I mentioned in the aforementioned shilling, $50 is shockingly inexpensive for such a robust piece of software. I would've been happy to pay several times that for a future version, and I'm sure most other users would as well. For sure, this isn't nearly as bad as other software subscription models: $25 a year doesn't sound so terrible when you remember a Photoshop CC subscription costs almost that much ($20) a month. Regardless, I take umbrage with the message this sends to CSP's users, who have long praised it for its bullshit-free and reasonably-priced business model. Taking your users for granted to this extent is a mindblowingly stupid move. For the sake of karmic justice, I can only hope that v2 doesn't sell as well as Celsys assumed it would, but my expectations are very low (if not nonexistent).

CSP v1 is reportedly available to buy until the end of the year. All of the praise I had for it still holds true until then, so I'll reiterate that now is the time to get a not-shitty version of CSP if you've been holding out. Besides the obvious fact that large software companies either suck or are just biding their time before they can start sucking, the moral of this story is not to praise any product ever. It'll come back to haunt you one day, and then you'll need to put on your clown outfit for your dramatic Youtube apology video.