Since Adobe announced their Creative Cloud subscription based software, there has been a lot of opining about whether this is a good thing or not. In the end, the fact that you can still buy everything exactly as you could before blunts a lot of the criticism, but it still leaves every potential customer with a choice: Is Creative Cloud a good thing for me.
Before I go on, here’s a quick rundown of what Creative Cloud is. For a monthly subscription price, you gain licenses for the entire Creative Suite Master Collection and more. If you sign up for a year in advance (paid monthly, like a phone bill) you get a significant discount, and an even greater one if you are also a student or (for a limited time) a current CS owner. The licenses are full (even for students), and you receive updates and new versions as part of your subscription. The programs are downloaded and installed normally, not streamed, it is access to the license you are paying for. On the other hand, if you stop paying you lose access.
The list of included programs is impressive, and includes both the Windows and Mac versions, and all languages at no additional cost: Photoshop Extended, Illustrator, Flash, InDesign, Premier, Acrobat Pro, Dreamweaver, Lightroom, Fireworks, Flash Builder, Edge, Encore, Story, Bridge, Audition, SpeedGrade, and Prelude at least are included. In addition you get 20GB of cloud storage, and access to various syncing and file management systems that work between users, programs, and even connect more fully to Adobe’s mobile apps. In fact, if you purchase three of Adobe’s mobile apps you get a free month of Creative Cloud (which is fair, the apps run about $10 each, give or take).
Finally, there’s the cost. Paying month to month will cost you $80. Signing up for a year drops that to $50 per month or $600 for the year. If you are a student or a current CS owner, that goes down to $30 per month, or $360 for the whole year (note that this only lasts for a year if you are a current owner).
Given all of this, Creative Cloud was practically made for me. There are two major reasons I think this:
Both Mac and Windows versions for one price.
I bounce between these two operative systems regularly, and really need both, at least for Photoshop. I already have access to both versions of Modo, Maya, SoftImage, and 3DS Max, so this would finish off my cross platform capabilities.
One year of Creative Cloud will cost me $360 at the moment. For that I get constant upgrades and multiple OS support. By contrast, the Master Collection (not including Lightroom, which I love) would cost me $800 as a student. And that’s for one release, on either Windows or Mac. The Design Premium Collection (which includes what I need, but not the Extended version of Photoshop) would cost me $450 with my student discount. Photoshop by itself would still cost $250, meaning I would have to spend $500 to get just that on both Mac and Windows.
I should also note that I won’t be a student forever, and when that ends my Creative Cloud price goes to $600 a year, but the Master Collection goes to $2,600 for one edition on one OS. Design Premium goes to $1,900, and Even Photoshop by itself jumps to $1,000.
So, best case in order to get everything I need as a student is $700, which gets me the Mac version of the Design Premium Collection, and the Windows version of Photoshop. Not ideal, but it would be enough. If I kept with that version for two years, I would actually make out alright cost-wise (though I would have far fewer tools and no upgrades) versus the $720 two years of Creative Cloud would cost as a student.
But, again, I’m not going to be a student for another two years (probably). So as a non-student my best case cost would be $2,900. I would have to keep that for five years before the costs went back in my favor (five years of Creative Cloud being $3,000 at the regular yearly price). And that’s for a significantly limited tool set, and at the end I’d still be stuck with CS6, whereas with Creative Cloud I’d be rocking something like CS11.
And that’s why I’ll be signing up for Creative Cloud soon. For me, it just makes sense.