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Is Adobe Creative Cloud Worth it?

Written by Heather Buckley – Wed 19 Jun 2013

Why I Think You Should Stop Moaning About Creative Cloud

Adobe's move away from the traditional licencing model of its Creative Suite software towards the subscription-based Creative Cloud has caused a veritable outcry from users the world over.

Claims that it's more expensive, that it's exploitative and that Adobe are trying to lock their customers into The Matrix of design software can be heard echoing round the empty and not so empty corridors of the internet.

The thing is, if you're one of those people who have spent the last month griping about how unfair it all is, I reckon it's probably time to stop.


Here at Silicon Beach, we've been using Creative Cloud, both personally and on our Adobe Courses for a while now and we're yet to explode in a ball of flames. Okay, so that's not exactly its best selling point, but from the way some people are talking about it, you'd think that's what was going to happen.

To be fair, there are plenty of decent arguments on both sides as to whether the move is a good or bad thing, but my point is, even if you think it's the worst thing since Rebecca Black, moaning about it isn't going to help in any way.

Here's why.

Creative Cloud isn't More Expensive

I'll add a caveat to that point - yes, it can be more expensive, but for the average user it won't be. Check out this chart from CNET who delved right into the nitty-gritty details of pricing -


Now the only existing plan that is cheaper in real terms (i.e. with one upgrade in the cycle) is the CS6 Design Standard package, and although Creative Cloud may be $152 more over the course 3 years, with it you get Lightroom, Premiere Pro, After Effects, Flash Pro, Edge Animate, Dreamweaver, Audition, Muse, and certain extra online services that you'd otherwise not receive with Design Standard, to go along with your classics like PhotoshopInDesign and Illustrator.

Now, if you currently work with CS3 or CS4 and planned to upgrade to the now non-existent CS7, it won't be cheaper, no. But then realistically, if you haven't upgraded for three iterations then you're not exactly Adobe's target market. You may think you're a loyal customer, but in a business sense, you're just a dead weight.

That's not criticise those who haven't upgraded in years; there are plenty of reasons not to, but what I'm saying is, you can't complain if you then get left behind by a company who is ultimately out to make money by grabbing hold of new and more responsive clients. Which brings me on to the next point.

Creative Cloud isn't for You

If you're the sort of user as outlined above that hasn't upgraded for ages, Adobe doesn't want you. It wants students, new designers and small businesses who may not have been able to afford the large, upfront cost of Creative Suite.

It wants the pros who upgrade every year and realise this package works out a whole lot cheaper. It doesn't want the hobbyist photographers, the semi-pros and the weekend designers.

This might not be a nice fact, but it's business.

You can sit there, feel sorry for yourself and spend the rest of your days angrily spouting of in forums and tech sites' comments sections, or you can brush yourself off, pick yourself up and analyse your options.

So what exactly are those options?


Alternatives to the Creative Cloud

Well, one option is to just suck it up and go for Creative Cloud anyway and resign yourself to the fact that this is the direction tech is headed. If you just can't bring yourself to accept that as a viable choice, then you've got three remaining options open to you (beware one of them should never really be an option).

  1. Hope that someone finds a way to pirate the software (they will/probably already have, but we wouldn't recommend this route!)
  2. Stick with/buy one of the older iterations
  3. Use alternative software

Let's assume you don't want to engage in illegal activity, really you're left with the choice of using older Adobe products or competitors'.

If you haven't upgraded since CS3 or so, an upgrade to CS6 will probably do you for another 4-6 years (by which point we'll all be designing things with the embedded chips in our minds anyway). There's also always the now free version of CS2, which if you're stuck on a pre-Creative Suite/rival, will do the job quite nicely.

Otherwise, it's time to look elsewhere. There are literally hundreds of free and cheaper options, whereby you might lose a function or two here and the slick interface there but which will ultimately do most of the same jobs.

Try this list and this one which have plenty of alternatives for you to wade through and trial.

In the end, those are your options, and without sounding too crass; you need to deal with it.

Adobe has moved on; maybe you should do the same.

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