OT: Subscription strikes again

For anyone here who is also a writer of any sort, I just spotted that Ulysses has shifted to a subscription model with the latest update. No warning sent out to customers.

Personally, I tried the not inexpensive app a while ago, and a few times since, and always found it a total pain. Style over substance. Others, apparently love the thing. But it remains to be seen if Ulysses fans will love continually paying for it.

Happily, there is a seriously good - non-subscription - alternative, in the form of Scrivener. I can confirm this works beautifully, syncing via Dropbox between IOS, Mac and Windows versions.

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Comments

  • 170 Comments sorted by Date Votes
  • I was tempted for a moment - until I saw it's IOS 10 only ... o:)

  • There's also yWriter, which is free.

  • edited August 11 Vote Up0

    Man are they lucky I never purchased that app for the original $20 asking price. If I was a customer, and they locked the features I used on the daily behind a subscription paywall, they'd know my thoughts on the matter very crystal clear.

    That said, I don't imagine I'll be inspired to churn out novels anytime soon. That's why I've stuck to IA Writer and Pages for my lyrics writing.

  • Scrivener is awesome, I use iOS and Mac versions. And they just announced that version 3 is coming

    I tried Ulysses but didn't like it much, and it was expensive. Now I use Scrivener and Bear notes, which is also subscription based but very cool and affordable ($1.5/month) and you need to pay only if you want sync between different devices.

  • edited August 11 Vote Up0

    I fear that this dreaded subscription model is going to be the future for iOS, android and Mac and PC apps. I was recently excited about the new Roland D50 vst on Roland Cloud until I seen it was subscription only which put me off. Subscription are a big no no IMO.

  • It won't be the future, because most people won't sign-up, they'll go for one-off purchases instead.

    Worth a try, though it's the reason I no longer use Adobe.

  • @MonzoPro said:
    It won't be the future, because most people won't sign-up, they'll go for one-off purchases instead.

    Worth a try, though it's the reason I no longer use Adobe.

    Yep, me too.

    Any app or Mac/PC program that goes subscription I will no longer update. Ultimately, if they make old versions unuseable, I'll abandon it altogether.

  • Talking of writing, I've eschewed the word processor, and fully embraced asciidoc for all professional writing and document making.

  • edited August 11 Vote Up0

    As a cross platform owner I am not f3cking happy at all.

    It's a text editor; it is complete. All it has to do is work with OS updates.

  • @Zen210507 said:

    @MonzoPro said:
    It won't be the future, because most people won't sign-up, they'll go for one-off purchases instead.

    Worth a try, though it's the reason I no longer use Adobe.

    Yep, me too.

    Any app or Mac/PC program that goes subscription I will no longer update. Ultimately, if they make old versions unuseable, I'll abandon it altogether.

    You just have to look at the success of the Affinity desktop stuff to see how popular the non-subscription model is, and by keeping prices relatively low I won't begrudge buying a new version in a few years time. The difference compared to the subscription model is that I have a choice, and the old version won't stop working if I stay on the same OS.

  • @lnikj said:
    As a cross platform owner I am not f3cking happy at all.

    Can you not just stick with the last version? Or did you tap update before seeing this development.

  • @jwmmakerofmusic said:
    Man are they lucky I never purchased that app for the original $20 asking price. If I was a customer, and they locked the features I used on the daily behind a subscription paywall, they'd know my thoughts on the matter very crystal clear.

    The current app keeps working. The developers released a whole new version with subscription pricing. Nothing is locked. No need to upgrade.

    I wrote about it here:

    Why Ulysses subscription pricing is good for the App Store

  • @MonzoPro said:
    You just have to look at the success of the Affinity desktop stuff to see how popular the non-subscription model is, and by keeping prices relatively low I won't begrudge buying a new version in a few years time.

    Yep. Invested in Affinity with an eye to the future. Haven't done much with it, yet. But what I've seen is seriously impressive. Whereas Adobe, on and off IOS, is a wreck.

  • edited August 11 Vote Up0

    @mistercharlie said:

    @jwmmakerofmusic said:
    Man are they lucky I never purchased that app for the original $20 asking price. If I was a customer, and they locked the features I used on the daily behind a subscription paywall, they'd know my thoughts on the matter very crystal clear.

    The current app keeps working. The developers released a whole new version with subscription pricing. Nothing is locked. No need to upgrade.

    I wrote about it here:

    Why Ulysses subscription pricing is good for the App Store

    You do an excellent job by stating your opinion and giving valid arguments to support your viewpoint. I may heavily disagree with your opinion and believe that subscriptions are NOT good for the Appstore let alone for most of us consumers (since they don't give consumers like me any options but to jump ship and seek out alternatives), but props where props are due. You stated your side quite well. (I'm on my iPhone at the moment. I can explain my side better once I'm home if you wish. ;) )

  • In the big world, it's becoming the norm. Most of the software we use in our development shop, such as Unity, Maya, Adobe Creative Suite, MS Office, all subscription now. Doesn't seem to be hurting their sales any. It makes for long term stability for software makers. It's just whether someone else with the same functionality can convince people to change over to them. In the small world, not so hard. In the big world, it would be a major pain to change.

  • @Zen210507 said:
    For anyone here who is also a writer of any sort, I just spotted that Ulysses has shifted to a subscription model with the latest update. No warning sent out to customers.

    Personally, I tried the not inexpensive app a while ago, and a few times since, and always found it a total pain. Style over substance. Others, apparently love the thing. But it remains to be seen if Ulysses fans will love continually paying for it.

    Happily, there is a seriously good - non-subscription - alternative, in the form of Scrivener. I can confirm this works beautifully, syncing via Dropbox between IOS, Mac and Windows versions.

    I am a copywriter for work and in my personal life. Not happy abou this at all. I use the app religiously every day. I guess I don't have to update but I don't want to miss any new features that gets released.

    I also just can't switch to a new app, I have so many files saved on Ulysses its not even funny. I will probably cave eventually, but not until I'm done venting.

  • edited August 12 Vote Up0

    @jwmmakerofmusic said:
    Man are they lucky I never purchased that app for the original $20 asking price. If I was a customer, and they locked the features I used on the daily behind a subscription paywall, they'd know my thoughts on the matter very crystal clear.

    Boy they dodged a bullet. ;)

  • edited August 12 Vote Up0

    @rickwaugh said:
    In the big world, it's becoming the norm. Most of the software we use in our development shop, such as Unity, Maya, Adobe Creative Suite, MS Office, all subscription now.

    But this is the major problem mate. The first argument I propose here is that not all of us have our own development shop/aren't as rich as Max Martin. A majority of people here are either hobbyists or are professionals still trying to reach a good level of success. In other words, unless you own a development shop/company/are Max Martin, there is no benefit to the end user on a tight budget, just the developer(s) and those with enough money to afford multiple subscriptions at once.

    The second argument I propose is "where's the new content". I could see how something like a DAW would benefit from a subscription model given they keep it up to date/add more internal effects plugins/free sample content (instead of having samples as separate IAPs). However, having a word processor on a subscription payment is ridiculous. Having an EQ on a subscription payment plan is ridiculous. These two examples are one-trick ponies with no space for new content/features. I liken it to subscribing to a magazine which only prints the same five articles over and over. It's rather silly.

    Besides, I can use something as simple as Wordpad on my PC to write words, a simple pen and paper, or even an art app like ProCreate with Apple Pencil and a jpeg of notebook paper lines on the bottom layer. I can use zMors EQ and DDMF's 6144 instead of a certain albatross. ;)

    The third argument I propose is, subscriptions for services like Spotify, Splice, Dropbox, etc are worth it if you can afford it. This assumes you aren't strapped for cash like in argument number one. Spotify Premium is $9.99/month, which is less than the cost of an album. I spent more than that monthly on music albums before I switched to that. Splice has multiple pricing options, and you can always put the monthly payment schedule on hold for a month or two in case you can't pay the monthly charge for a given month. Not bad. Dropbox has a LOT of storage space, and since you're using it to store your junk on there, a monthly subscription fee is very much justifiable. It's the virtual version of storage units. (Side note: I really wish those idiots at Dropbox would add some higher storage tiers for singular users instead of hiding the good stuff behind Dropbox Business, which requires four other chaps to sign up with you, i.e. a development shop. ;) )

    The fourth argument I shall put forth is, what happens if you can't afford the subscription price for an app for a particular month because, say, your shitty car broke down and needed a new alternator, and you already subscribed to Dropbox and Splice and other services and just can't fit anything else in? Would you then be expected to go without the use of a DAW or have broken projects due to AU apps being subscription-based, all because you couldn't pay the piper?

    The fifth argument I put forth is, if I was to pay a subscription for any one-trick pony apps, they'd have to be in a bundle. For instance, I may not be able to afford it right now (because eventually I'll need a new Windows PC that can handle a heavy load), but EastWest Composer's Cloud is a great way to access a load of great instruments I wouldn't be able to afford otherwise. If Waves would offer their Mercury bundle under a $29.99/month subscription, that too would be worth it. Both things have the ability for new content to be added, and both have extremely unobtainable-as-f3ck one-time fee prices. Things like these, when bundled, are what I'd consider justifiable subscriptions.

    Lastly, if an app started out as subscription based, there's only the threat of that kind of pricing scheme becoming a trend amongst new apps. If an app went from a single fee into a subscription base, well look at how pissed off half of Ulysses' customer base became, their singular blog post sparking so much hatred that the amount of net traffic from negative comments pouring in literally shut down their servers. Sure you can justify that "developers need a sustainable income", but unless you're J.K. Rowling or Stephen King, there's no way to justify paying a subscription for a word processor. :D Just no way, no how.

    Summary: Subscriptions are good when they are for services, bundles, and possibly for apps with the possibility of new content. Subscriptions are bullshit for one-trick-pony apps such as EQs, such as word processors, such as art apps. The solution for the latter apps? CHARGE MORE MONEY!!!!! We users are smart enough to know these tools we need aren't stupid games like Candy Crud, Witch Booger Saga, and Angry Turds. ;) So, CHARGE MORE MONEY! You can still charge cheaper prices for the iOS versions of PC apps so iOS musicians feel like they're getting a bargain, but charging a simple $2.99 for an app that by rights should be at least $4.99 if not $9.99 is close to being robbed of a sustainable income. These are my opinions at any rate. ;) Cheers.

  • @jwmmakerofmusic said:

    @rickwaugh said:
    In the big world, it's becoming the norm. Most of the software we use in our development shop, such as Unity, Maya, Adobe Creative Suite, MS Office, all subscription now.

    But this is the major problem mate. The first argument I propose here is that not all of us have our own development shop/aren't as rich as Max Martin. A majority of people here are either hobbyists or are professionals still trying to reach a good level of success. In other words, unless you own a development shop/company/are Max Martin, there is no benefit to the end user on a tight budget, just the developer(s) and those with enough money to afford multiple subscriptions at once.

    The second argument I propose is "where's the new content". I could see how something like a DAW would benefit from a subscription model given they keep it up to date/add more internal effects plugins/free sample content (instead of having samples as separate IAPs). However, having a word processor on a subscription payment is ridiculous. Having an EQ on a subscription payment plan is ridiculous. These two examples are one-trick ponies with no space for new content/features. I liken it to subscribing to a magazine which only prints the same five articles over and over. It's rather silly.

    Besides, I can use something as simple as Wordpad on my PC to write words, a simple pen and paper, or even an art app like ProCreate with Apple Pencil and a jpeg of notebook paper lines on the bottom layer. I can use zMors EQ and DDMF's 6144 instead of a certain albatross. ;)

    The third argument I propose is, subscriptions for services like Spotify, Splice, Dropbox, etc are worth it if you can afford it. This assumes you aren't strapped for cash like in argument number one. Spotify Premium is $9.99/month, which is less than the cost of an album. I spent more than that monthly on music albums before I switched to that. Splice has multiple pricing options, and you can always put the monthly payment schedule on hold for a month or two in case you can't pay the monthly charge for a given month. Not bad. Dropbox has a LOT of storage space, and since you're using it to store your junk on there, a monthly subscription fee is very much justifiable. It's the virtual version of storage units. (Side note: I really wish those idiots at Dropbox would add some higher storage tiers for singular users instead of hiding the good stuff behind Dropbox Business, which requires four other chaps to sign up with you, i.e. a development shop. ;) )

    The fourth argument I shall put forth is, what happens if you can't afford the subscription price for an app for a particular month because, say, your shitty car broke down and needed a new alternator, and you already subscribed to Dropbox and Splice and other services and just can't fit anything else in? Would you then be expected to go without the use of a DAW or have broken projects due to AU apps being subscription-based, all because you couldn't pay the piper?

    The fifth argument I put forth is, if I was to pay a subscription for any one-trick pony apps, they'd have to be in a bundle. For instance, I may not be able to afford it right now (because eventually I'll need a new Windows PC that can handle a heavy load), but EastWest Composer's Cloud is a great way to access a load of great instruments I wouldn't be able to afford otherwise. If Waves would offer their Mercury bundle under a $29.99/month subscription, that too would be worth it. Both things have the ability for new content to be added, and both have extremely unobtainable-as-f3ck one-time fee prices. Things like these, when bundled, are what I'd consider justifiable subscriptions.

    Lastly, if an app started out as subscription based, there's only the threat of that kind of pricing scheme becoming a trend amongst new apps. If an app went from a single fee into a subscription base, well look at how pissed off half of Ulysses' customer base became, their singular blog post sparking so much hatred that the amount of net traffic from negative comments pouring in literally shut down their servers. Sure you can justify that "developers need a sustainable income", but unless you're J.K. Rowling or Stephen King, there's no way to justify paying a subscription for a word processor. :D Just no way, no how.

    Summary: Subscriptions are good when they are for services, bundles, and possibly for apps with the possibility of new content. Subscriptions are bullshit for one-trick-pony apps such as EQs, such as word processors, such as art apps. The solution for the latter apps? CHARGE MORE MONEY!!!!! We users are smart enough to know these tools we need aren't stupid games like Candy Crud, Witch Booger Saga, and Angry Turds. ;) So, CHARGE MORE MONEY! You can still charge cheaper prices for the iOS versions of PC apps so iOS musicians feel like they're getting a bargain, but charging a simple $2.99 for an app that by rights should be at least $4.99 if not $9.99 is close to being robbed of a sustainable income. These are my opinions at any rate. ;) Cheers.

    Tell that to the excellent KRFT devs who tried to charge $10 for an app that's easily worth $20, and people here balked and had hissy fits. They stopped buying and they had to drop down to $4.99.

    They can raise prices all they want, but if the market's volume of users is unwilling to cough more dough, guess what? They have NO sales.

  • @skiphunt You do make a valid point. One thing I forgot to mention (in fact, the MOST important thing I should've put in my post above) is hybrid pricing. In other words, charge more cash for the one-time-fee, and charge substantially less for the subscription fee. This way, both pricing options are available, and everybody wins.

  • @Noirflux said:

    I am a copywriter for work and in my personal life. Not happy abou this at all. I use the app religiously every day.

    >

    FWIW, Scrivener has many more features, and is far better in every day use. So maybe worth you looking into, even though changing would be a wrench.

  • The thing about subscription is that the regular period of payment is fixed, and arbitrarily fixed at something like a week, or a month, or something like that. This might work for someone in a job who uses that resource almost every day, certainly many times in a given week. For a normal person at home, months can go by and the thing isn't even used once. Many of my apps haven't been touched at all for 18 months or so. Then maybe I start one up for ten minutes and decide against it and move on to some other app. Should I have been paying a subscription in the interim?

  • Subscriptions are bullshit for one-trick-pony apps such as EQs, such as word processors, such as art apps.
    >

    Ulysses was never a cheap app. Certainly, when I bought it for something over £18 I thought I was investing in a high quality app that I would use most days. Instead, I found something that continually frustrated me with its quirks and just didn't work as expected. Mail to the developers resulted in endless excuses for lack of features or things that simply did not work as advertised, such as Dropbox sync. There was also the problem of where the hell did the app put files, 'cause it was impossible to find them as clearly defined documents, due to saves being held in their own format.

    So I deleted the app when space was tight, and periodically downloaded it again to see if it had improved. My complaints never were dealt with, but I thought I would always have access to what I'd bought, 'cause that is the way the App Store works. Now, I find that I cannot download my previous purchase. Instead a change is forced.

    I can download the new version, and that does show a Restore Purchase option....but, when tapped, all it does is offer some kind of lifetime subscription for £26. So these bastards actually want me to buy the app again for more, and prevent me from restoring the old version. Attempting to bypass this process results in the second screen grab, informing me I am in Read Only mode, and my activation - of a different model - has expired. So, in effect, what they are saying is what I paid for is no longer mine. Had I been relying on this app I would no longer be able to edit my own files. This is outrageous and entirely unacceptable.


  • @Zen210507 said:

    @lnikj said:
    As a cross platform owner I am not f3cking happy at all.

    Can you not just stick with the last version? Or did you tap update before seeing this development.

    I did update but I expect I can back out of it. I will be sticking with the old version.

  • I won't pay subscriptions. In the end, when there's enough customers not paying, developers will turn around back to full-priced Apps (which may be more expensive, but that's good towards what I want: long time sustainability of the App in question). When there's not enough customers giving a care and paying subscriptions, though, they will be the future. Thus it is very important, that customers show their "opinion" with their wallet, (the only way of influencing the market from below) and communicating with developers, if possible. All else shouting and crying and willing it differently is lost energy, in my eyes.
    Free of subscriptions here, thanks to Affinity for the main part, and always available different choices. (Thanks to @MonzoPro and this forum for pointing me towards Affinity back then...).
    Let's just not feed the monster, and it will starve.

  • edited August 12 Vote Up0

    @lnikj said:
    I did update but I expect I can back out of it. I will be sticking with the old version.

    Really? How will you do that?

    I've already asked Apple for a full refund. If I am to be denied access to the previous non-subscription model which I paid for in good faith, that is retro thievery!

    It's like buying a car, then finding out the makers have added a new feature, which means you can open the doors to your model but not drive it anywhere unless you pay for something you don't want...that cost more than the original every fucking year!

  • edited August 12 Vote Up0

    @animal said:
    I won't pay subscriptions.

    If you have Ulysses, but not actually installed due to space considerations, the makers now deny you access. Instead they make the 'generous' offer of paying £26 for full access every year. This being a 50% discount! So for new customers, these clowns are charging £52 a year...for a cut down word processor. Unbelievable.

    Also, if you look at the review section for the app, there are highly suspicious glowing reviews, in praise of the subscription model. Attempting to update a review, which is usually instant, fails with this app. Who is reviewing the reviews and stalling on publication?

  • I think the subscription apps tend to be aimed at pros, with a base of pro users making money with the software. A company like Adobe wants a stream of revenue from commercial use, and they choose a licensing model that works best for them. I subscribe to Photoshop/Lightroom and that works fine for me.

    The market will decide on any particular app, and I think makes a more clear distinction between kinds of users and the investment they want to make. Should be room in the world for both. Choose what works best for you.

  • edited August 12 Vote Up0

    @lovadamusic said:
    Choose what works best for you.

    Why would I, or anyone, do anything else?

    Ulysses has broken App Store convention by showing a restore previous purchase option, then having that lead only to a pay us more money option. There is no access to the previous purchase. This is effectively preventing customers from using a legitimately owned app, and demanding money before access is restored. Robbery.

    As for Adobe, I gave up on them several years ago, when they became a rental company. The last Photoshop version before that still serves my needs perfectly well. Alongside my Xara products, which are excellent. As for Lightroom, I never did get on with that, finding it overrated, and much prefer the alternatives, both paid and free models.

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