Autodesk kills ArtCAM, proves subscription is terrible for customers

Autodesk kills ArtCAM, proves subscription is terrible for customers

This story goes back over 50 years. A British company called Delcam was founded in 1965 and developed many products. These included ArtCAM, an application for producing 3D parts using 2D artwork as a base. It won a Queen’s Award for Innovation in 2003. In 2014, Autodesk acquired Delcam for approximately USD$286 Million and ArtCAM (among others) became an Autodesk product.

As with all Autodesk products, sales of perpetual licenses ceased a couple of years ago. Owners of perpetual licenses were encouraged to ditch them and switch to subscription instead. Financially encouraged, with “discounts” and promises of price rises for uncooperative customers. You’ll be familiar with this part of the story.

Now, Autodesk has killed ArtCAM. The FAQ is here, but as of right now you can’t buy a new ArtCAM subscription. You can renew an existing subscription until 7 July 2018. Support ends on 1 November 2018. Support will be of limited value because bugs are highly unlikely to be fixed, especially if what I hear about the development team being fired last November is true.

Are you an ArtCAM customer wondering what this means for the future? Here’s what happens if you followed Autodesk’s advice and switched to subscription:

  • You stop using the software as soon as your subscription runs out. Immediately. No negotiation will be entered into.

Here’s what happens if you didn’t follow Autodesk’s advice and kept your perpetual license:

  • You get use the software for as long as it still works.

Which of these scenarios would you say is preferable from a customer point of view? Yes, it’s a rhetorical question similar to, “Would you prefer to: a) cut your own head off with a blunt rusty saw; or b) not do that?”

Remember when I said subscription was a trap and you shouldn’t fall for it? Was I wrong?

OK, hands up all those customers who still think Autodesk subscription is a good idea. Anyone?

I’ve added ArtCAM to the Autodesk Graveyard. Anybody who thinks this can’t happen to their product should read that page and ponder how many Autodesk customers thought their product would permanently persist.


  1. James Maeding

    Adesk will not do that for any major products while they are alive, but the real problem I see is how adesk is pricing network seats super high. For Civil3D, you have to buy the collection and then they add 20% on that for network seat. No one I know would do that. they will instead buy non-network individual Civil3D only, and use the cloud licensing system. That is the weak link here. I continue to have problems opening Infraworks, which is the ONLY cloud licensed product I use. Recap is same, but I hate it so don’t consider it as something I use. Anyway, adesk cannot troubleshoot my issue yet. Its intermittent, and by the time I get them, I have had to do a workaround to get it started (tether to phone internet) and the issue goes away the rest of the day. THat alone is enough for me to make bricscad our primary platform.

    1. BlackBox

      @JM – Re: C3D–>BCAD, what 3rd party app(s) are you also buying/subscribing to to fully replace C3D?

      While C3D team is much preferable to the ACAD team in terms of how actively they’re developing the product & how much they incorporate user feedback by comparison, I still don’t like having no other real alternative to C3D – so if you’ve got a BCAD + ??? combo that does that, I’d be interested in learning more.

      @SJ – The only caveat I’d offer, is that subscription-only is what makes this so terrible. There’s definitely a market for rental, it’s just the gross minority, as most (aptly) prefer & could afford perpetual. ADSK wanted to flip that in their favor (obviously), but they did so before actually having something to offer customers that made us WANT it… Kind of like the guy from American Pie movie… A bit premature. Haha

      1. Steve Johnson

        I agree, it’s the lack of choice that makes subscription such an imposition on customers. I’ve always said I’m happy for Autodesk to make rental available as an option. Trouble is, Autodesk tried that twice in the past (making rental optional) and the marketplace was distinctly disinterested.

    2. Steve Johnson

      James, do you have any hard numbers? I thought the days of 20% premium for a network license are long gone at Autodesk. Because the current US$ network prices aren’t published it’s hard to be certain, but last figures I saw showed a premium of more like 50%. I remember the outrage when it went from 0% to 15%.

      To be fair, Bricsys also charges a large premium for network licenses, but that’s only on the initial outlay and it’s a large % of a much smaller amount.

  2. Mick Adams

    I think they will do it with any product, don’t forget recently they stopped developing Inventor properly to put focus on Fusion.

    Aren’t they supposed to be developing a platform, so surely they will soon can a lot of products. What happens to your subscription then?

  3. Dave Ault

    Hmmmm, don’t I remember comments from Autodesk stating to worried Delcam customers that Delcam would be autonomous in management and sales even though owned by Autodesk?
    This ought to be the death knell for any vestige of credibility Autodesk has regarding promises to customers.

      1. Mick Adams

        “The poor Autodesk guy” – I assume you are referring to Dillon? Such a shame all the hard work he is doing then they plan to kick him out.

        Fusion is like offering someone a fork to eat soup, shame they only seem to have forks in Autodesk.

        1. Steve Johnson

          I didn’t want to name names, but yes. I would hate to be in his position.

          Spoons are so old hat; forks are the way of the future. Everything is going forks these days, soon it won’t be possible to get spoons anywhere. If you demand spoons, you’re not a real soup eater.

  4. Mick Adams

    I’m now calling Dillon “Poor guy”, he is left to deal with support and doing an amazing job, then will be kicked out the end of November.

    To me it seems crazy; in November they stop support, in November they kick the support guy out leaving him with no job. Why not give the support guy the ability to support customers afterwards. But I’m a spoon guy not a fork guy (or a forker) well for soup anyway.

    I suppose eventually Autodesk are trying to become sporkers. It has more options but does each one badly.

  5. Zenako

    Hi anyone reading this in 2020, there is a new ArtCAM alternative called Carveco which is basically the same thing and supports existing ArtCam file formats.

    1. Paul Myers

      It has been 2 years Since your post and Carveco is still there.

      I am one that got burned bad by the discontinued Artcam. I was debating on buying it from Delcam, then the next day I tried and got redirected to AutoDesk.
      I subscribed until about the middle of September 2018. If I had paid for two more months I could have kept using the software, but AutoDesk was probably already planning on killing it resulting in the complete lack of support ( except from the “Poor Guy”.)

      I always have and always will despise Software subscriptions.
      Intuit can F’ right off about quicken. Used for many many years, will not pay for sub. ALL my years of data gone because I will not pay the ransom for it.

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