More software is going to a subscription model, which offers the benefits of a smaller up front cost and distributing the cost over multiple lower payments. The downsides are that there is a constant cost, and in most cases the cost of the subscription will overtake the cost of perpetual license and upgrades.
So, which is a better deal for Capture One users? Let’s look at the costs. These are current as of February 2017, and are taken from phaseone.com, and are subject to change at any time.
Upgrades: $100, released approximately once a year.
Subscription: $20 paid monthly, or $180 paid yearly.
So in 2 years, a license + 1 upgrade would cost $400, a monthly subscription would cost $480, and a subscription paid yearly would cost around $360, so at a year and eight months paid monthly, and about two years and three months the yearly cost crosses over, and the subscription becomes more expensive. This may change a bit depending on when in the release cycle you buy the licenses, but it is safe to say that in less than two and a half years the cost of the subscription exceeds the cost of the perpetual license and upgrades.
You can also choose to skip upgrades if it does not look like the upgrade is worthwhile. I haven’t run into that yet, the last several upgrades have added enough to justify upgrading. If you choose to do this, Phase One usually only allows for upgrades of the last 2 versions (you can upgrade to version 11 from versions 9 and 10), so you do not want to skip more than a single upgrade. Again, there is no guarantee that this will remain the case.
If you are able to get a promo code for a 10% discount, usable only on perpetual licenses, the cost changes to $360 for the same license + 1 upgrade in 2 years, so the crossover point is at 2 years even. After that, the cost is basically double every year ($90 for a discounted upgrade, $180 for the subscription)
There is a chance that Phase One will go to a subscription only model in the future, and if that happens before you pay off the initial cost, you could end up paying a little more. Once you hit the crossover, there would be no difference.
If you already own a license eligible for upgrade, the perpetual license upgrade is a the clear way to go, costing $100 (or $90)/year vs $180/year for the subscription.
The monthly subscription price is much too high, and you will end up paying about two and half times the upgrade price for as long as you use Capture One. The yearly price is a little better, but requires forking over almost two thirds of the perpetual cost, and then almost double the upgrade cost every year.
Check out my free Capture One styles.