Clip Studio Paint is moving to a monthly subscription when version 2.0 launches in 2023.
Illustration by Alex Castro / The Verge

The newest version of the popular digital illustration and animation software, called Clip Studio Paint, was announced by the company. Some fans praised it for its one-time purchase model, but now feel betrayed.

The current version 1 will no longer receive feature updates free of charge from the year 2023, according to an announcement on the website.

This has incensed members of the artist community, who previously hailed the service as a fantastic one-time purchase alternative to software as a service applications, effectively adopting a similar business model that fans of Clip Studio Paint were trying to avoid.

— ⛧Bae-Phomet⛧ (@Hell_Yena) August 22, 2022

The upgrade packages on offer were explained in a confusing way. There will be no more updates for those on a perpetual license for version 1.x after version 2.0 is released. If you buy a license for version 2.0, you'll get access to the base version, but you won't get any additional updates after that.

“We will continue to provide free updates with new features until the end of the year, before the app moves to Version 2.0”

Consumers could be forced to accept the third option, a subscription for existing users called an "Upgrade Pass" that is valid for one year, which will update their existing 1.x version to 2.0 and continue updating it to include additional upgrades and new features as they release new versions.

Those who couldn't afford or didn't want to pay for a rolling monthly or annual expense sought out new, more affordable alternatives.

A more professional version of the software with features for comic artists and animation was available for $219.

All three versions of the app get free monthly updates and additional features as part of the 99 cents a month subscription model. Though it isn't considered to be industry standard software, clip studio is used across a wide variety of skill levels

Clip Studio going subscription mode has to be the worst stab in the back of the digital art community that I’ve seen in a long time. Paying a one time fee was its BIGGEST selling point.

— Lauren Walsh @ ECCC Q09 & ENNIE AWARD WINNER!! (@LaurenWalshArt) August 22, 2022

Artists felt betrayed by the new pricing structure. Many are claiming that the one-time purchase business model is a big part of its appeal, as they didn't want to be locked in to paying for a monthly or annual subscription as they would with Adobe's software suite The people who were outraged by the decision recommend a similar app called Krita.

Friendly reminder that @Krita_Painting is, and forever will be, free and open source. It's one of the few digital art tools that is owned and driven by the community itself.

Let's keep building a tool for/by artists that's accessible, modifiable, powerful and fun.

— Emmet O'Neill (@emmetoneill) August 22, 2022

The announcement tries to assure existing customers that the upgrade passes will be sold for a lower price than monthly usage plans. It will be possible for new customers to sign up for a monthly subscription without having a version of Clip Studio Paint.

Version 2 and onward will have a separate permanent license from version 1.x, so anyone still using version 1.x can continue to do so for as long as their system supports it. At the time of writing, it is possible to purchase and own the current version of the software, with Clip Studio Paint stating, "We will also provide free stability updates for major bugs or errors caused by the OS or specific devices, into next year and beyond the transition to Version 2.0."