Renting vs Buying Software. Which Is Best?

In recent times, a variety of software manufacturers have changed the way they offer licenses from perpetual (where you buy the software) to rental. Rental solutions typically offer you the latest software for an attractive monthly rate but there is just one catch…



If you stop paying, you lose your software!

That’s quite a catch! Rental is all well and good when you can afford to pay, but imagine this: Your business hits a bad spell, your cash-flow dries up and you can’t afford to pay the fee. Then you instantly lose access to the software, which is likely your only way to continue your business. Just like that, you’re finished. It’s a scary thought but we all know it can happen, and it’s precisely why we think perpetual licenses are still very important. With perpetual licenses, your software doesn’t expire if your business hits a lean time.

What if you were given the choice? Which option would suit you best? 

Those are two questions we’ve been thinking about a lot. We’ve been monitoring the feedback from customers moving to the new rental models offered by other companies. Some like them, some don’t and both have very valid reasons. At MAXON, we believe the choice should be yours to make. Therefore, we offer both long-term and short-term software solutions. Even better, we offer a chance to upgrade from short-term to perpetual licenses. Let’s take a look at the pros and cons of each, and then you can make up your mind which type suits you best:

Perpetual licenses

These are licenses that you buy outright and offer several benefits:

  • They are cheaper to keep continuously upgraded in the long run. After the initial license purchase, a 12-month MAXON Service Agreement for Cinema 4D Studio is currently just £450 ex VAT, annually. By contrast, a short-term license costs £1,700 ex. VAT, for one year.
  • If you can't afford to upgrade, your license will still continue to work. Even though it’s always helpful to have the latest version of the software, you can still create great imagery using older software if times are hard.
  • Last but not least, they are assets, which you can sell if you ever need to. This is helpful in case you ever change your mind about 3D software and want to focus elsewhere.

The only drawback of a perpetual license is the initial cost.

Short-Term licenses

These are licenses that work in the short-term and have three key benefits:

  • They are perfect for short-term users of the software such as freelancers or for companies in need of hiring additional artists to ramp up short-term on a project.
  • They are initially much less expensive than perpetual licenses.
  • You can upgrade to a perpetual license upon expiration of the short-term license. Although slightly more expensive than buying perpetual licenses, this allows you to dip into 3D without making a huge investment.

However, Short-Term licenses have several drawbacks:

  • Once the license expires, it stops working.
  • If a new release of Cinema 4D comes out, you’re stuck with the version you have until it is time to extend your license.
  • Your short-term license cannot be transferred to someone else. If you use it for a couple of months and then want to sell it, you can’t.
  • Utilizing a short-term license long-term (2 years or more), works out to be more expensive than perpetual licenses.

Which is better for you?

This really depends on your budget and your time requirements. However, I think you’ll probably fall into one of the four types below. I’ve suggested what I think is the best solution for each need:

If you need 3D software long-term…
Perpetual with MAXON Service Agreement makes the most sense. While they are much more expensive initially, the cost of maintaining a Cinema 4D Studio license is equivalent to under £40 ex VAT per month.

If you want to toe-dip before fully investing…
Short-term licenses make sense if you want to make sure Cinema 4D is really the software for you. If you’re happy with it, then you can move to a perpetual license for the best value.

If you only need Cinema 4D for a few months...
Short-term licenses make the most sense. Perfect for a short-term project.

If you only have a small software budget...
Short-term licenses can help your cash flow as you can pay for small time periods at a time. Plus, you can always upgrade to perpetual when funds allow if you wish to.

In summary 

Hopefully, the above information has helped you figure out which licence type is best for you, even if you start with one type you can still move to the other, if you really need to. We’re trying to ensure we’re offering what you need us to.

Perhaps you want us to go further and take advantage of monthly rental like some other companies. If that’s the case, let us know and we’ll look into it. MAXON has always been and will always be driven by the requests of our customers. We really value your feedback. Any ideas or needs you have, let us know on the suggestions page

Naturally, pricing also comes into play. You can find your localized pricing and options on our MAXON UK shop. If you still have questions and need more information, remember that your local MAXON representative is always just a phone call or email away. If you're outside the UK, your can find your local MAXON distributor here


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If you'd like to try out Cinema 4D and have a go with all the powerful features on offer, then be sure to grab yourself a FREE Cinema 4D trial. The trial gives you access to virtually all of Cinema 4D's features and you can also opt to activate it for 42 days of save functionality. Simply fill out the form on the link below to get started!

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About the MAXON Blog

Welcome to the official MAXON UK Blog. This blog provides the most up-to-date official information about MAXON, its products – in particular its flagship product Cinema 4D – and the Cinema 4D community. You can expect to see posts from a wide variety of MAXON UK employees.