Updated May 9th, 2013 – my edits are in italics. Adobe recently changed its pricing structure to only have subscription-options going forward. Also, my one year $30/month deal expired so now I’m paying $50/month.
I think the first version of Photoshop I ever used was Photoshop 5 or 6. Since then I’ve upgraded to every major version when it came out and plunked down hundreds of dollars every time there was an upgrade (maybe I skipped a version or two). In total I’ve probably spent several thousand dollars on Adobe products over the years.
This year Adobe launched it’s creative Adobe Creative Cloud platform which makes ALL these pieces of software available as part of a monthly subscription, which I think is both a smart business move on Adobe’s part and also a good deal for designers like myself. It’s arguable whether this is a good deal – I think it really depends on your level of usage. If you’re a designer who makes a living doing this, then probably yes. If you’re not a design professional, then it may not be worth it.
While there’s a monthly cost now, the benefits of going the Creative Cloud route outweigh the cons (if you’re a graphic professional).
The cost for standalone is $49/month but if you already have Photoshop or similar, it’s only $29/month for people who own a previous CS product (like Photoshop CS5, etc.). This is only for the 1st year though, after which your price for the entire suite will go up to $49/mo indefinitely.
When it was time for me to upgrade from Photoshop CS5 to Photoshop CS6 I went ahead and got the Creative Cloud subscription instead. This allowed me to get a bunch more programs that I can use for various other purposes.
For instance I hadn’t worked with Dreamweaver since about 2006 but since Dreamweaver CS6 came with my subscription I went ahead and downloaded it. While I do most of my coding in Espresso, I do fire up Dreamweaver CS6 to do sitewide code searches. For instance if I need to know which files reference a certain php variable, Dreamweaver is my goto tool for that.
With CS6, Adobe has vastly improved how fast the programs run and how easy they are to install. Everything is installed via the Adobe Application manager. The process is about as simple as installing a Mac app (which is way better than the old way of going through all the install screens).
So last week when I was doing my taxes and needed to combine a bunch of statements pdf’s I fired up the Adobe Application Manager and installed Acrobat X Pro. It was downloaded and installed in a few minutes – easy. Bam!
Now that Lightroom 4.1 has finally been added to Adobe Creative Cloud, I’ll upgrade that too. I have a lot of pictures so it’ll be an over-the-weekend project for later this year.
I haven’t worked with After Effects CS6 yet but since it comes with my subscription, I’ll have to download some templates from Video Hive and play around with that at some point too.
So overall I’m very happy I went with the Creative Cloud subscription. At $30 per month it’s definitely worth it to have all the latest and fastest versions of the gold standard design software out there (Photoshop, Illustrator, & Lightroom 4.1 mostly).
It’s really like walking into Adobe’s Candy Store and being able to play with ALL the toys.
Now that I’ve used it for over a year, I think it’s probably only worth getting Photoshop for $20/mo instead of the entire Suite – UNLESS you also need one or more of the other apps – like Illustrator or Lightroom. So if you’re an illustrator, graphic design professional, or a photographer – then Creative Suite is probably worth $50 per month. If not, then the other apps may just be bloatware on your machine.
Also, I see that a lot of people are upset about being forced to go monthly subscription-only. I’m not quite sure where I stand on this – as I think it’s a professional suite of tools and are priced as such – but I can understand people’s frustration. I guess time will tell if this is a smart move by Adobe or not.
Max Spiker is the founder of DMAD and has been developing for the web for over 10 years. He is passionate about design, Wordpress, travel, iPhone apps, online marketing, and lifehacking. +Max Spiker is currently into studying rationality and decision making and creating fun online projects. Note: Some links on this site are monetized by affiliate programs - see disclosure for more details.