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jremick Envato team says

Hi everyone!

A forum thread was recently started in which some members of the community wanted to discuss “lite” versions of themes being sold along side the full featured version.

This was a great question to ask as it has been a point of confusion for quite some time now.

But first, some history…

Originally our undocumented policy around this was a strict No. However, over time, things have changed and the benefit to both authors and buyers, if done correctly, makes sense. Just like in every other major marketplace, versions of a core product or “upgrades” are commonly available. As the demand for eCommerce grew, so did the demand to sell a standard theme and an eCommerce version, separately.

Once the pricing for these features was reconsidered, we also eventually reconsidered allowing an eCommerce version to be sold separately as the work involved was often significant and justified a price increase. These themes commonly had an eCommerce focus rather than being an all-in-one like we see frequently today. eCommerce support is also much easier to add to a theme than it used to be.

As the marketplace landscape continues to change, there’s an increasing demand for theme variations and themes that focus on a certain purpose. To better accomodate this demand for both authors and buyers, a limited degree of theme variations would need to be allowed (ie. not strictly limited to eCommerce). However, as we had no documented policy for this, we have worked towards getting things like this both clarified and documented publicly.

The Updated WordPress Variations Policy

You can read the recently published variations policy here.

Our goals for this were to:
  1. Document the existing policy publicly
  2. Clarify where the “line” is which justifies a new version
  3. Adjust the policy according to community feedback and demand

We have completed the first and are working on the second and third. We are listening to community feedback and discussing the future of the policy.

What is the policy?

In short, “lite” theme versions are not permitted. However, multiple theme versions are permitted.

What we’re trying to be careful of here is the confusion around what a “lite” theme is. There has been many instances where a “disabled” version (most often called “lite”) of a theme has been requested to be sold (either separately or on its own) in which the buyer could then “unlock” the full set of features via subsequent purchase. We do not feel this approach is appropriate for ThemeForest and have not allowed it. So the term “lite” had become associated with “not fully functioning.”

We want to make clear that the minimum requirement for ThemeForest items is fully functional products (a “standard” product).

Beyond this, however, a theme can have significant additions in functionality and purpose that justify a new version being sold (just adding a plugin and a few extra styles will not cut it). If a new version of a theme is permitted, it does not mean it can be sold elsewhere when you are an exclusive author. The core product is still viewed as being the same and we feel this would breach your exclusivity with Envato. The only exception to this is when the theme has been rebuilt for another platform (eg. WordPress vs Drupal).

Questions that need to be answered…

  • What is a “standard” WordPress theme?
  • Won’t this flood the marketplace with versions of everyone’s themes?
  • Are there future improvements planned for this policy? If so, what are they?

We will be working to answer these questions and clarify the policy documentation in the coming weeks. Please let me know if there’s any questions I’ve missed or clarifications you’re looking for in the policy documentation. Thanks, everyone!

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charlie4282 says

I understand you are allowing “upgrading” of files but not “downgrading”, however is there a list of what constitutes a sufficient alteration to a file?

The variations policy states “It has been rebuilt to primarily serve the purpose of the extended functionality (eg. eCommerce) ok so the judge of this is down to the reviewers knowledge and opinion? I think it would be wise to have a slightly more definitive explanation or criteria of change (unless I have been stupid and missed it)

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jremick Envato team says

I understand you are allowing “upgrading” of files but not “downgrading”, however is there a list of what constitutes a sufficient alteration to a file?

The variations policy states “It has been rebuilt to primarily serve the purpose of the extended functionality (eg. eCommerce) ok so the judge of this is down to the reviewers knowledge and opinion? I think it would be wise to have a slightly more definitive explanation or criteria of change (unless I have been stupid and missed it)

We agree! The policy needs more definition and examples, which we will work on providing in the coming weeks.

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ThemeFocus says

What is a “standard” WordPress theme?

For Example:

As Multi-Purpose WordPress Theme also support WooCommerce. Without WooCommerce will means “standard” version.

Because of many buyer purchase the theme but don’t want to pay extra 10$ (WooCommerce don’t need).

A theme then will have 2 version “standard” 40-45$ , “woocommerce” 55$ as 2 items.

I have a idea for single item page : add a extra functions options like “strandard”, “WooCommerce Extend” not 2 items.

Thanks.

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tommusrhodus says

Hey, thanks for adding some clarification to this.

I think we all still need a bit of help though, here’s a few scenarios:

1. A theme is released, WooCommerce support is added along with extra styling, templates etc. Can we then release a version of this theme stripped of eCommerce?

2. A theme is released without wooCommerce. After some work it’s decided a separate version will be released that includes WooCommerce, extra styling, templates etc.

Honestly I take issue with both of these, especially given the example set by the theme my original thread was about. The theme the initial thread was made about was a multipurpose theme, it was re-released afterward with basically just WooCommerce removed. So here I can basically double my portfolio if we’re allowing this?

The second scenario is even worse if that’s allowed, as any author doing this would basically be leaving the original buyers in the dark, having to pay a very premium upgrade if they needed the features of the other theme.

Either way, I think that this needs to be handled extremely carefully, and only allowed in circumstances where the 2 themes are an order of magnitude apart in terms of functionality, not just “strip these features and re-release”

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ImanGM says

if that’s allowed, as any author doing this would basically be leaving the original buyers in the dark, having to pay a very premium upgrade if they needed the features of the other theme.

+1

I’ve upgraded one of my items from header to footer. And added WooCommerce to it. Now if I release the new version as a new item, what should the older item purchasers do? They won’t have access to new upgrades and it’s not fair.

I’m more concerned about customers satisfaction than theme flood on homepage (Which it’s very important too).

Cheers,
Iman

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FinalDestiny says

I understand your point, however, doens’t it make more sense for the Envato team to integrate it directly on an item? Why flood the marketplaces with two different themes or even three(if we take BuddyPress in consideration) when you can simply add a checkbox to add WooCommerce compatibility for $10-15 and download a different package. Therefore, the authors would need to upload two different zip archives, one with WooCommerce, one without.

I think this is the best option and I think everyone would be happy, rather than having multiple variations of the same item. If I buy a normal theme and then the user releases a WooCommerce version, the old user would need to pay the $55 price again, feeling cheated. Instead, he could pay the $10 upgrade and get the WooCommerce version.

Also, for the theme we were all speaking about, which was clearly a lite, I see it’s gone now, was it a lite? We’re not allowed to do that, right? Am I correct?

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FlatKing says

Whilst I agree it’s helpful for the buyer possibly not having to spend $55 might mean a ton more sales, but I’m sure I can speak for everyone when I say no one wants to see authors uploading a ton more items as it becomes confusing for buyers and annoying for authors
Ideally set up something like the below image, where extra versions are uploaded within the actual item, so each item becomes an item group that houses items.



Or

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tommusrhodus says

I understand your point, however, doens’t it make more sense for the Envato team to integrate it directly on an item?

This makes a lot of sense, no item duplication, buyers can get the plugin integrations that they need. Yep, I like this. You can even have the option to buy the standard theme and then pay the difference for the additional integrations, imagine that, theme forest with viable upselling, couple that with a shopping cart and we could have something really amazing :)

The current multi-item idea doesn’t work, Cristi’s idea & FlatKings mockups make a lot of sense to me, no separation of items, proper upselling, buyers choose the features they want. Yep.

@FlatKing – Nice! :)

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pixel-industry says

While I agree with FlatKing, about not flooding the marketplace, I can understand to some point differences between two themes.. If first version has only “standard” functionality and the other is really full eCommerce solution – no about us, services and those pages, but really a powerful e-commerce solution, simply with the same layout feel it would be ok.. But there should then be strict guidelines on what is acceptable and what isn’t, because there will actually be flood of the same themes on marketplace.

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