No more Creative Suite: what does it mean?

Adobe has just announced that Creative Suite will cease to exist after CS6 (in name at least), and be replaced exclusively by Creative Cloud. On its most basic level, that means there won’t be perpetual licenses for future Adobe products (though, for now, you’ll still be able to buy CS6 in that format) and instead all of their Creative Cloud software will be available by subscription only.

For creatives, this is a huge shift. Adobe has been the leader in graphics and web software for years (especially after their purchase of Macromedia), and designers and agencies are used to the perpetual license model. I’ve already been hearing complaints from some colleagues unhappy with the switch, though many of their complaints don’t really have much merit if you really break them down.


$50 a month?!?!

The price is probably the most common complaint I’ve been hearing. But if we break it down into long-term costs for the subscription compared to the cost of the perpetual licenses, the subscription actually comes out on top.

A new (not upgraded) license for Creative Suite 6 Master Collection is US$2,600. An upgrade license will cost you anywhere from $550 (if you already had the CS5.5 Master Collection) to over $1,000 (if you had any of the other CS5 or 5.5 products). Adobe has historically offered major upgrades every 18 months or so, which means the monthly breakdown is between $30 and $58 per month. And if you have to buy the entire Creative Suite new, then you’re looking at a cost of over $144/month for 18 months.

Adobe is offering CC subscriptions for new users for $50/month, and for “upgrade” users for just $30/month for the first year (and CS6 users will get an even steeper discount for the first year). The other big advantage is that you won’t have to fork over a large payment up front. This makes it much more affordable for new designers or small agencies, and will obviously reduce start-up costs for new freelancers or agencies. This could encourage a lot of great designers to strike out on their own.


I don’t want my work in the cloud!

The good news is that you don’t have to host any of your work in the cloud, and the software itself runs right on your computer, not online.

Granted, the cloud offers a lot of great features you might want to take advantage of, but there’s nothing that says you have to. You can keep using your CC products just like you’ve been using CS products for years.

And if your internet connection is down (either on purpose or because of connectivity problems), you don’t need to worry about your software not working. It only needs to connect to validate your license every 30 days, and with the annual plan it will still work for over 3 months (99 days) without validating. Of course, without internet access you won’t be able to access online CC features, but the software on your computer will still work fine.


But how do I pirate something in the cloud?

Okay, I haven’t heard this one expressed directly, but I’ve heard grumblings where the subtext is basically the same thing.

My answer for this is that you really shouldn’t be pirating the software in the first place.

Without getting into the entire moral and ethical debate surrounding software piracy and when it is or isn’t acceptable, let’s look at one small aspect of it: the biggest reason given for piracy is often that the product isn’t affordable. I can see where that was the case with CS, as it’s a very expensive professional program. Obviously your hobbyist or entry-level designer might not want or be able to spend thousands of dollars on software.

But Creative Cloud removes that expensive start-up cost. Most professional designers using Creative Suite products are making well over $50/month with the software. And there are free and low cost alternatives that will meet the needs of most hobbyists if they don’t want to spend that kind of money on a monthly basis.

I understand the frustration that many people who design as a hobby or just like to “play around” in Photoshop or another Adobe program, but at the same time, it’s certainly not Adobe’s job to make it possible to use their products without properly licensing them.

Adobe maintains that the added difficulty in pirating their products had nothing to do with their decision to transition to an entirely subscription-based product line, but I’m sure they’re finding it to be a nice little added bonus.


I only use Photoshop/Illustrator/etc! I don’t want to pay for everything!

There’s good news here: you don’t have to. There are plenty of people out there who only use Photoshop, or Illustrator, or any of the other Creative Cloud/Creative Suite products. And for those people, you can subscribe to just one program at a discounted rate of US$19.99/month.

This is a great option for those people who only use one product (like photographers who only use Photoshop or visual effects designers who only use After Effects).


More about the new subscription model

Students and teachers will still be able to get Creative Cloud at a deeply discounted rate of US$19.99/month ($29.99/month after June 25). The big bonus here is that they’ll get access to all of Adobe’s programs, rather than just the one or two they might need for their classes.

This opens up a lot of creative possibilities, as students and teachers will be able to more easily branch out into other media. We’re likely to see more designers familiar with motion graphics, more video editors proficient in audio editing, more photographers proficient in design, etc. And of course we’re more likely to see interesting projects coming out that combine disciplines.

In addition to the basic Creative Suite programs we’ve all become accustomed to, Creative Cloud offers some additional tools you might not have used before.

There’s the Digital Publishing Suite, which lets you create content and publish apps. There’s ProSite for managing and building your own professional portfolio site. Business Catalyst offers tools for website hosting and management. And Story CC Plus is available for collaborative screenwriting and production tasks (like scheduling and reporting). These are apps that a lot of designers and other creatives may not have tried before, but without any added cost, there’s no excuse not to now.

One of Adobe’s main reasons for switching to the cloud model is the ability to constantly update products and add features without a major product upgrade. These constant updates are good news for the creative community.


The verdict?

While transitioning to the cloud is going to be an unwelcome change for some designers and other creatives, overall, I think it’s good news for the industry and for creative pros. You’ll have access to more programs and more features for less money. And you’ll get updates on a more consistent basis, without added cost.

While I’m sure we’ll continue to hear complaints from some sectors of the design community, overall I think most creatives will embrace CC once they give it a chance.

Are you already a Creative Cloud subscriber? Are you happy about the change or do you have reservations? Let us know in the comments!

  • Dan Nisbet

    I feel like everyone keeps quoting the best-case scenario about CS6 Master Collection vs. the new monthly fee. What doesn’t get discussed is those of us who never bought Master Collection, instead opting for another package, like Design Premium in my case, instead.

    In my specific case, I purchased Design Premium CS4 used for ~$1,000 about 3 years ago. And in doing my math, I’m currently “paying” approximately $25/month to use it. Of course, the longer I use it, the lower that number goes. The way I use Adobe products, I’ve never had a need for the latest and greatest. Much of what I use was available before CS was a thing. Granted, the new bells and whistles can be a nice addition to the work flow.

    So in short, my beef is that for folks like me, this isn’t a savings or a minor price increase. This is the equivalent of doubling the price. I don’t want Master Collection and I’ll never have a need for it, especially at $50/month. And I’m not going to pay $60-$80/month just to cherry pick the programs I need.

    • Whats the big idea?

      While this may be true, you have no reason to upgrade. You can continue to use your CS4 package and if you dont want the new “Bells and whistles” then don’t upgrade to CC. No one is saying you HAVE to upgrade.

      • Black Book Operations

        Until we are 10 years later and the software doesn’t run on new systems anymore… I happen to use a lot of “old school” programs that eventually will need an upgrade due to whatever reason. Not being able to buy a new “package” the “old” way will have its repercussions like that. we all HAVE to upgrade one day or another… That said… a good program is worth it’s money in the long run.

  • jaystrab

    What does it mean?…

    See you later, Adobe! Your software has gotten more bloated year after year. Your subscription model is only good for you, not us. You don’t fix bugs that have been out since that version of the app launched. See this video

    And, you’ve bought out, screwed up, and discontinued some of the best software that was out there because you didn’t want competition (GoLive, FreeHand, Fireworks).
    Now moving to Pixelmator and Sketch. I’ll use my current version of Photoshop CS5 if I need to do any cmyk work, but that’s about it.

  • Benjie

    I signed up for Creative Cloud several months ago, and I couldn’t be happier. It’s far cheaper than upgrading a version of Creative Suite and unlike upgrading the web design version of CS I have access to everything Adobe release.

    I’d love to see more competition in web design software, I definitely felt that Adobe acquiring Macromedia was a bad day for the web. However, as Cameron says that’s not Adobe’s concern.

    It’s professional grade software; go ask a plumber, or an architect, or a chef if they’d like to lease their tools for $50pm with the guarantee of always having the latest version and they’ll jump at the chance.

  • Boss

    I wonder how much you are being paid by Adobe for this. It reminds me of WWII Germany, if you tell a big enough lie often enough people will take it for the truth.

    Your first mistake is the assumption of upgrading every version. Most people don’t upgrade like that – rather they will either skip a version, or if the new version offers nothing that they use, they may skip several versions. Why do you think software companies put in the how far back you could upgrade from for the upgrade price. Because they were trying to force the upgrade from people who were perfectly happy with their software.

    Second is thinking that $50 isn’t much – it’s not in isolation, but again this move is not being made in isolation. Adobe isn’t the only software company that has moved to this model. Matter of fact they are kind of late to that party. It’s the 50 from Software A, then B, then C, then D and on.

    If I was to subscribe to all of the software that I have been using in the past, my monthly subscription fees would be over $1000. That is simply not affordable. Especially for software that you keep around just to maintain compatibility with the odd client.

    So I have already dumped software that I have been using and upgrading since the late 80’s to free software that while it doesn’t do what the other did, it’s close enough that I don’t need to be paying $150 a month for the subscription.

    The same for my accounting software – they are moving to a $35 a month subscription fee and I’m moving to free software that I found on the web that does exactly the same job.

    As much as Adobe will try to sell this, and to find shills to say that it is a good thing, I think that it is a policy that will have a very short life because Adobe is going to find that it is going to lose not just the few customers that they thought there were going to lose, but rather enough that it is going to make serious inroads on their income.

    This move to the cloud by Adobe will be like Napoleon’s Waterloo, or Coke’s New Coke fiasco, and I fully expect to see the executives that pushed for the move looking for work in the near future.

    • Benjie

      For the record, Adobe have not paid us a cent in any form for this article. On the occasions when we post sponsored articles they are always clearly marked as such.

      Neither were we sponsored by Mike Godwin ( ) :)

      • Boss

        So you are telling me that Adobe never advertises on this site? Bull.

        The ad at the top of this page is for Adobe Creative Cloud. They may not have directly paid for the shill job, but you are obviously kowtowing to a major advertiser.

        That is just bad form, and really hurts your credibility.

      • Benjie

        The advert at the top of the page is provided by adchoices ( ). You’re seeing an Adobe advert because you’ve recently visited their site. I see a Christian Aid advert, for the same reason.

        I’m sure we’d be very happy if Adobe wanted to advertise with us, but they haven’t done so in this case :)

    • bgbs

      Webdesigner Depot is trying to be rational about this issue because they are in the editorial business and as such their purpose is to examine both sides and always settle somewhere in the middle. Because as far as writers and editors are concerned, to sound rational you never choose sides but make your conclusion in the middle of the road. But the problem with the middle of the road positions, is that they always sound inconclusive and in-concrete.

      • Benjie

        I don’t think we’ve been middle of the road at all have we?

        There are legitimate concerns surrounding this move, but on balance, and from personal experience with the service, we think it’s a good thing.

  • Barry

    There is no mention of them discontinuing FIREWORKS!!!!! Surely this has to be the biggest issue here for designers like me. Most of my work is done in Fireworks and im surely not the only one who is disgruntled that this will be discontinued?

  • Helban

    Brand loyalty starts young. School / High School art students are fond of Photoshop for manipulating images and artwork. They can’t afford $20 per month just to play. No early loyalty and they will find the next best thing to do the job. Why do you think they put Coke machines in schools – customers for life….

    • bgbs

      thats the point. Photoshop starts as a hobby product. Nobody will be subscribing to it in highschool

  • James George

    I, for one have always wanted a subscription plan. In college, I would have died to have access to the entire master collection for $50 per month. That is much more manageable than $2600, or $500 at a time, or $1000. I consider it a business expense, such as power or fuel when I make office calls. I think $50 per month is reasonable, and you are right Cameron; I make much more money than what I pay out in the long run. Example: a couple of days ago, I had a small job of extracting tshirts from a background and updating them as the products for a t-shirt maker’s home page. I used the quick selection tool, not available in previous versions, had the shirts cut out in 30 seconds, saved them as pngs and updated the header. I made enough to pay this month’s subscription in half an hour.

    I don’t know what all the complaining is about, except that people don’t like change. I do disagree with European countries being charged 70 pounds, or more than we pay in the U.S., but I have no control over that. If you aren’t making enough to pay for a $50 monthly subscription to have the best software out there, maybe you should look for a new line of work.

    • jaystrab

      It’s not about the price so much for me as it is about the number of bugs and slow responsiveness of the software itself. EVERY site online that review Photoshop CS6 said it was THE fastest version they’ve ever used. They must be using computers from 5 years in the future, because it is seriously slow on my iMac 2012 with 32GB of memory. Photoshop launches fast, but after that it is no different than previous versions. And, some features are so slow they are unusable. I am not going to pay a monthly fee for that.

  • James George

    Martin, I do disagree with you having to pay more, but it is still a pretty good deal for having access to everything. If you don’t use all of the software, I wish Adobe would use a more versatile “pay for what you use” standard. For example, setting a fixed $ amount for each program, and you check which ones you want and they add up your monthly total that way. You use Photoshop and Illustrator? They each cost $7.50 per month, so your total is $15/month. That would make a little more sense and would dismiss a lot of angst across the board.

    • James George

      This discussion actually sparked an idea for my latest article: “” Tell me what you guys think.

  • Mike Ebert

    Not only do people look at the best case scenario of Creative Cloud vs. Master Suite, they use the personal subscription pricing. I run a small business, and so I have to pay the team price, $69.99 / mo. I upgrade every 3 years, so that’s 36 x $69.99, or $2519.64. Compared to the $1000 upgrades to Design Premium, I’ll be paying well over double. I don’t appreciate this, Adobe.

    • Doc Pixel

      Why are you comparing Team pricing with a Single User upgrade? Or was that $1000 for Volume Licensing? I actually have 3 computers and use the same Single-User License but obviously, not at the same time.

      Just in case you’re unaware, CS6 EULA:

      2.1.3 Portable or Home Computer Use. Subject to the restrictions set forth in Section
      2.1.4, the primary user of the Computer on which the Software is installed under
      Section 2.1 (“Primary User”) may install a second copy of the Software for his or
      her exclusive use on either a portable Computer or a Computer located at his or
      her home, provided that the Software on the portable or home Computer is not used at the same time as the Software on the primary Computer.

  • Surrealtopia

    It means that Adobe sucks, I only need a replace of Indesign and forget this bunch of junk, there are great applications like Sketch or Espresso that deserve my money a thousand times more that this gang of thieves.

    • ikkf

      I also abhor Adobe’s business practices. One of the first things they did after buying Macromedia was to kill Freehand, the best vector graphics program on the market, because they couldn’t make Illustrator a better product. Adobe left thousands of designers and design firms in the lurch, with files that are now incompatible and obsolete.

      People talk about Microsoft’s monopoly, but Adobe has one of the most nefarious monopolies out there, yet somehow they manage to stay under the radar.

  • Benjie

    I believe there was a move in the UK parliament several years ago to force all software companies to charge the same rate to UK businesses as in foreign markets (the UK is more expensive than mainland Europe as well as the US and Asia).

    I don’t know what became of it though.

    • ezekiel tojoshan

      Hello from Argentina… it would be cool to make Adobe’s people know that South America exist and have designers too. Today 1u$s is equal to 10.5$ar so it still being a not affordable price for us.

  • Stephen Spicer

    Personally, if the cloud model makes it harder to pirate then I’m all for it. I’m pretty fed up with competing with moonlighting designers with pirated software. I know someone will say “it’ll be cracked in moments”, but actually Mac people don’t appear to be that good at cracking on the whole and wait for the cracked version to appear; I guess Adobe will be looking out for that and will pop out a patch very quickly. I suspect over the next year I will have a lot of saving back down to do…

    I do agree however with @creativebeacon:disqus , about paying for what you use. There must be many people, myself included, who only need half of what’s on offer.

  • bgbs

    The upgrade to Adobe products happen every two or three years, not every year, this changes this argument completely whether CC will save you money.

    People in the past sold their software on ebay and those who didn’t need the latest and greatest bought it cheap off of ebay. This is now out of the question. Adobe has infringed on the second hand market by screwing those who sold their older copy and bought a new copy, and screwed those who only bought second hand.

    Subscribing for something monthly works for services, but Adobe products are not known as services, but rather as tools. In the real world tools can be rented if you need to use them temporarily or when they are too expensive to own, but the same tools are available for sale. Adobe has completely change that by saying that our tools are no longer for sale. The Cloud part of the Creative Cloud is the only serviceable part and should be offered as an option to those who need it. Adobe is simply trying to package all the goodies together that we need and don’t need to raise value of the product in our eyes.

    The problem with rented products is that their value depends on the amount of usage time. Someone who uses the software all day everyday will see great value in the subscription model, but someone who does not, would always question the value. So the only way to keep up that value is to always force yourself to use the software as much as possible. If the usage dwindles so is the value. Every time you open that bank statement that Adobe fee will be consciously starring at you. Not so with the bought product, because if you find yourself using it less, you just choose not to upgrade next time.

    Adobe wants to make sure that their software does not change hands, but that everybody always buys directly from Adobe. But what this would do is drive all hobbyists to look for alternative solutions. Adobe apparently is not aware that there market consists of many hobbyists, they will soon find out. And secondly this will drive piracy way up. Remember Adobe suite is still an installable product, which means that the real CS7 without the option of cloud will be available on Black Market (torrrent sites and the like).

    • 3lutz3toe

      I agree w/ you on everything except for the part about businesses ultimate goal is to raise revenue. This is the Friedman line of Economic theory that is being embraced to the detriment of consumers and communities all the while benefiting mostly greedy businesses/stockholders. But that’s besides the point.
      —Adobe, like I have mentioned before, posted Net Profits last year around $1BILLION! (And this is w/ all the complaints about piracy and such but it certainly didn’t hurt them much did it?) And the fact is that even if they made it impossible to pirate, those folks would still not buy the softwares legitimately because of the high price point. They’ll either pirate something else,or switch to another alternative.
      —The professional designers is another story, since CS6, w/ Photoshop and the likes being the standard and so entrenched w/in the Design/Creative world that it would be hard to find another alternative that is as robust or as mature as PS. Especially when Adobe has been planning since the beginnning (mid 80s to early 90s?) to MONOPOLIZE the Professional Creative Softwares standard ever since they started buying up Freehand and the likes!
      —And further more, if Adobe succeeds at the RENTAL/SUB model, other softwares leaders will follow suit, by bundling their softwares and charge a Monthly RENTAL premium! How many more Bills can you handle if you’re a small studio or a small time Freelance Graphic Designer? (And those that act like every designer is a big shot name w/loads of cash to spend on more and more bills, then think again.)
      —There should be a place w/in any model where the small time designer or business can co-exist!

  • heyimtim

    Don’t like being forced to pay thousands of dollars? Sign the petition to get Adobe’s attention:

    • jaystrab

      Unfortunately, that won’t solve anything. Free FreeHand tried to do the same thing and all Adobe did was give users of FreeHand a discounted price on purchasing Illustrator. Adobe won’t listen to that except to maybe give people a discount, which will still lock you in to using their subscription software.

  • Benjie

    It doesn’t work like that. Apart from the fact that there’s a grace period when a subscription is cancelled during which you can still use the applications, the files are saved just like now.

    There’s nothing stopping you working in CC6, then saving down to CS6, CS5 or any other compatible version.

    The only thing you lose when you cancel the subscription is the subscription.

    • jaystrab

      Yeah you lose a subscription to the software. Which means if you don’t own a previous version of the software you won’t be able to open those files. Adobe is counting on that to keep you paying for the subscription and thus locking thousands of people into this model forever. No thanks.

      • Benjie

        You’re only locked in for the period you want to use the software for. Should you find an alternative, there’s nothing stopping you copying the files over to your new application and shutting down your subscription.

    • Rogier Borst

      “There’s nothing stopping you working in CC6, then saving down to CS6, CS5 or any other compatible version.”

      Great for the short term. How about a couple of years from now? Will you be able to take your CC9 files and save those down to CS6?

    • 3lutz3toe

      What about those that have either retired from the business but still want to be able to open some of those files w/out being forced/hijacked into paying a perpetual RENTAL fee to use a sofware?
      —Someone liken this to being forced to only RENT car and not being able to BUY a car!
      —Because if Adobe really cared and listened to its loyal customers, they would offer a choice of either perpetual liscence to BUY or those that want to RENT!
      —BUT WE ALL KNOW THIS IS ABOUT GREED/PROFIT OVER CUSTOMERS NEEDS! As soon as Adobe announced the RENTAL model at one of their Shareholders meetings, STOCK prices jumped!
      —And yes, Adobe had a Net Profit of about $1BILLION last year alone!

  • Benjie

    The applications don’t update by themselves, there’s an updater, just as there is with Creative Suite. It includes a description of what the update is.

    So if you have a high-stakes project near completion, probably best to postpone updating your software until the project’s signed off.

  • Richard Malcolm

    It’s ok I find myself using Adobe products less and less these days. I don’t want Adobe to have a permanent hook to my bank account thank you.

  • Black Book Operations

    Wouldn’t it be neat if adobe would give us photoshop and illustrator for free (or even after effects in the loop) and makes us pay extra if we wanted the latest and greatest or for extra filters/goodies/… new tactic, maybe a bit too “open sourcey” ;) but if I see what real open source progs can do… it’s not THAT farfetched…

  • HenriS.

    Abode constrains us users to think new about using their tools. Do I really NEED ALL EVERYTIME in the NEWEST version? Of course – sounds sexy – but no. Instead of getting the whole expensive cloud, I think about renting my favorite single app and about monthly memberships, for those times and projects – I really need newest capabilities. For all the other things – I still have my personal version of Creative Suite.

    This will be my plan for the next 2-3 years. Lets see, what will happen with Adobe and the Cloud thing…

  • Matt Drake

    Serious professionals most certainly do not use pirated software. If you’re making any money with your software, you should be paying for it. If you’re not making enough to pay for your software, maybe it’s time to rethink your business strategy. Either way, ethical professionals with a modicum of pride do not use pirated software.

  • SocialRobot

    Personally, I think there is a MUCH BIGGER issue at stake here. If it were just the $50 a month or whatever your plan is, that wouldn’t be a problem. The problem is what if this does work? Whats going to happen, is other software companies are going to start changing the way they release their software to monthly subscriptions as well. If you only use 1 software, thats not a huge deal, yet some people(like me) may use a large array of software which could end up costing hundreds of dollars a month in total…NOT COOL ADOBE…NOT COOL

  • Michael Janik

    No, no, no – I don’t agree that it comes out cheaper. I for example don’t need to upgrade every Adobe Software with every new release. For me it is enough to upgrade every few years. So it is a rip off in my eyes. Especially in Germany where they want about 82 Dollars per month. I am sooooo angry now!

  • smith7891

    I had a live chat with adobe.. If the guy was correct about some strange details about adobe-customer now or adobe makes you ‘relicense and relicense’ I can’t SAY I AGREE!

  • Helen

    I have a one year subscription to Adobe Creative Cloud and I am finding it impossible to cancel. I have less than a month left before my Adobe Cloud subscription will be automatically renewed against my will. I have contacted Adobe several times already but they use avoidance, misinformation, etc that seem calculated to force me to renew or incur penalties. It feels like extortion. I feel that I’m being victimized by a once-excellent firm that has become unscrupulous and predatory. I’ve read lots of reports online about others experiencing this problem, so I know I’m not the only one being treated like this. I’m waiting for an answer from Adobe to my last email, but since I now only expect more of the same treatment, I am compiling a list of business and legal agencies in hopes of getting help for myself and also in hopes of causing them to stop their deceptive and unfair practices.

    • Benjie — WebdesignerDepot

      That sounds very worrying. I’d suggest you contact your bank and instruct them not to make the payment, at which point Adobe will almost certainly cancel the subscription for you.

  • Ron

    The strategic aim of Adobe is the reason for this change: A dependency of mostly the whole designer industry. And now after this sneaky manoeuvre was successful, the designers do not think about how to get rid of the situation, they just discuss the worst or the less worse case. This will not solve the problem. A monopole is a monopole. But what could be a solution? Especially for collaboration you need a perfect interface – in fact – the same software. A real solution would be to establish a second platform. And the only solution I see is Quarkxpress. Sorry, but sometimes I miss a bit politically ideas in the designer crowd. It is your future, in the hand of one company… Monopoles always ended miserable – for the customers.

  • Scully

    As a student I don’t upgrade my Adobe suit every time an upgrade comes out, I’m actually happy still using my copy of CS4 I got in high school. I hate this. This is Adobe forcing everyone to upgrade whether they need to or not. This will make them much more money from people who can’t afford it, and a little less money from people who can.