Nope. Too complicated to approve what constitutes major/minor updates. This will only lead to gaming the system and reduced trust.
Keep it simple. Renewing a license should give buyers access to all item updates for 12 months. There’s no reason to make it more complicated than a yes/no decision to renew.
The system should be designed so authors focus on producing quality updates frequently, which encourages buyers to renew their license. Scraping buyers for individual updates doesn’t encourage good behavior from authors.
@ digitalscience — Two small points on paid updates (which I’m so glad people are finally pressuring Envato for).
1. I think update access should only be sold in 12 month increments. Nobody can predict where they’ll be a year from today, so let’s not commit as authors (or buyers) to something 1-5 years from now. That’s just as unfeasible as “lifetime updates”. Keep it simple with just two options: purchase license and renew license.
2. The question of when exactly a license renewal begins from needs to be addressed. It could start from the date of renewal for 12 months (I think that’s fair). Or it could stem from the last license’s expiration, in which you may need to purchase multiple renewals to catch up after several years. I think that’s overly complicated with minimal gain. I’d want customers to stay updated yearly as long as I’m providing updates worth paying for.
Simply bumping font-size up to 16px would make a big difference for reading on phones (and everywhere else). It’s not 2007 anymore.
+1 for the paid updates that contains new features, and actually -1 for the new proposal. Updates with security changes should be free, but the discussion about the paid updates should be on another thread. Personally I wouldn’t charge for each and every update as I do have a couple of items which I kinda update regularly, however at X updates a fee would be nice.
That’s just overcomplicating things. There is no way something like that would work on a market as big as Envato.It should be simple – you get access to updates and support for one year after the initial purchase, and then you have to buy an extension to continue having access to those. It’s a model that just works, plain and simple.
Agree. Charging per update would be ridiculously annoying for all involved. Paid updates should simply be for access to all updates in X timeframe.
Let me recap this thread:
Envato thinks: paid support matters more than paid updates.
Authors think: paid updates matter more than paid support.
Buyers will (rightfully) flip out if you do both. Whichever comes first will stay. This debate really matters long-term. Envato is on a very slippery slope.
Q: Why aren’t you trying to monetize updates instead?
A: We are not ruling this out at some point in the future. As I mentioned earlier, our current thoughts on updates are:
- Authors update items in many different ways…some only do basic updates and security patches. Others try to continuously add value through new features. Some do both and everything in between.
- Buyers are fearful of having to pay for a basic updates/security patches in the future and some have said they would not buy that item if they had to meaning the author may not get the sale in the first place.
- To get around this, we’d need a major/minor versioning system – major for value-add updates (possibly paid) and minor for basic/security patch updates (possibly unpaid) – this would add a lot of complexity and considering that authors update in very different ways would be hard to manage.
It seems like Envato is thinking we want to charge per update. That would be excessively complicated for buyers. Selling updates as a service should equate to “X months of access to updates”. I’d favor 12 months because that gives the author enough time to decide if they’ll continue support before buyers need to think about renewing access.
It shouldn’t matter if I release five small fixes, then a major feature rewrite. As long as the buyer has a valid license for access to updates, they should get them for X price (I think renewals should cost the same as the purchase price — it’s that valuable and dirt cheap compared to hiring a freelancer to maintain it). When your access ends, you can purchase an extension to the license, or support the product on your own.
It’s true there are differences between authors in how frequently/passionate updates are released. This shouldn’t dissuade buyers though. It would be obvious if any author is providing worthwhile updates or not from anyone using the software and paying attention. The buyer always has a choice to update or not.
Lastly, of course there will be buyers who claim they wouldn’t pay for updates or buy products with paid updates. Nobody wants to pay more. I truly believe if this were implemented the revolt would be small and shortlived. Customers will stick around because the products are good, and the new revenue will surpass the loss of some buyers. This is exactly what happened when WooThemes made the switch from lifetime updates to paid updates.
GravityDept saidGood point actually. Not sure buyers will be thrilled with it though.
[...] Updates are much more valuable than support a year after purchase. If I’m going to charge customers beyond the initial purchase, I want to charge for what provides the most value to them and me.
As a buyer, would you rather pay for updates/improvements or pay to ask a question? Because Envato thinks the latter is how to solve the sustainability problem. I think that’s dead wrong.
There are buyers who will kick/scream if updates were paid. I simply don’t want those customers. I think they’re the minority and they’re definitely low value. Most buyers would love never writing another “theme I bought 3 months ago is abandoned, now I’m screwed” thread. Here’s one from today: http://themeforest.net/forums/thread/there-is-only-1-reason-why-envato-sucks/146222
Recurring income for updates is the only incentive that can fix the problem for both sides (plus Envato).
UBLThemes saidI’m just wondering why would you want to opt out from this if you can get extra income through support? I mean, you are still providing support anyway, indefinitely but free of charge.
What happens if we opt out of this, but still support on our sites, legally you can not stop us from doing this, so our question is how can you stop this from happening?
I don’t want to charge for support. Support should be free. The limits need definition.
I do charge for customizations. I think authors/buyers have little to no issues with this.
I want to charge for updates. Paid updates scale as a service because they’re don’t restrict my time.
Updates are much more valuable than support a year after purchase. If I’m going to charge customers beyond the initial purchase, I want to charge for what provides the most value to them and me.
Wasn’t quick enough to add these comments to the Google Doc before this was published, so I’ll just repost my thoughts here:
My biggest concern
...is that Envato is monetizing the wrong support service. Q&A / bugfixing provide minimal value to buyers in the long run. These are a cost of doing business as an author, and simply good business. That’s why 99% of authors provide this type of support.
What relatively few authors provide is long-term item updates, and this has maximum value to buyers. As long as Envato is planning to give away item updates for free to all buyers they’re not solving the sustainability problem because they’re not charging for value. It’s very true that support requests taper off after six months but I have many buyers from years ago who continually download and thank me for providing updates year after year.
Authors have almost no incentive to do this because unless you stay in the top sellers list, you absolutely need to bang out theme after theme to keep revenue up. Charging for updates is an obvious solution, and one that I’ve been fighting Envato for on the forums for several years now. I have very little concern about whether Q&A, support, customizations are made mandatory (I’m going to handle them how I always have). But I’ve already begun a path to toward charging for item updates and unfortunately it sounds like that means not funneling that business through Envato.
Related to the blog post
I’m concerned that we’ll see a very rapid divide between items with support and without that have the same price. Depending on how hard Envato emphasizes this difference it may become impossible not to opt-in (basically coercion).
The terms cannot be “provides support and guarantees 6mo commitment” or “zero support”. There are authors (myself included) who will provide support but won’t commit to supporting a product for 6 months (potentially 12) after it’s obviously not profitable to sell. Why would any business accept that stranglehold of ability to direct resources freely?
And finally pricing
This is a dealbreaker. We know Envato wants to set a global policy, so it’s consistent for buyers. I can’t see a scenario where this is equally economical for a person living in Switzereland vs Senegal.
From a buyer perspective (someone who is not a developer but running a business) consistent item updates are at minimum or greater value than the initial theme price. When you’ve invested time and resources to customize a theme, you don’t want to start over every year because the item’s author abandoned it. That’s valuable. If Envato comes back with 6-months of support at 50% of the item price I’d be very disappointed (even assuming they don’t start allowing updates to be monetized).
Long story short
Same opinion I’ve held for years on pricing. This is a step in the right direction, but I think it falls short of sustainable digital products.