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Maya Enters 3D Volume Market

Price Slashing Impacts 3D Graphics Industry By Paulo de Andrade
Alias/Wavefront has reduced the price of Maya. Not just by a little bit, but significantly. Maya Complete, formerly priced at $7,500 will now sell for $1,999 and Maya Unlimited, which formerly sold for $16,000 will be priced at $6,999. The software remains the same and no features were removed in order to lower the prices. This means that Maya is now priced in the same category as traditional volume market 3D software such as Lightwave and MAX, which may very well be considered a landmark in the history of 3D graphics. It's the very first time that a high-end 3D application is priced within the reach of virtually any artist, breaking down the financial walls that separated the larger animation studios and production facilities from individual artists.

The market really began to change the moment that applications like Lightwave and MAX started offering features that were competitive with higher end packages such as Maya and Softimage XSI. Even though the lower-priced packages were not as powerful or user-friendly as the higher priced ones, they offered many similar functions for a fraction of the cost. Many users of these packages dreamed of moving up to higher end ones, but were immediately discouraged by the price barriers imposed upon them. Not only was the initial purchase price of a package like Maya much higher, but the practically mandatory maintenance contracts imposed a considerable financial burden for individuals or small shops. Even the game developers market sometimes could not justify the expense of moving to a high-end package when the cost of maintaining a few dozen licenses exceeded a hundred thousand dollars per year.

Those unfamiliar with how maintenance contracts work with high-end packages should know that, in most cases, paying an expensive yearly maintenance fee was the only way to obtain software upgrades. So, on top of the initial software cost, it was necessary to pay a few thousand dollars a year if you wanted to keep your version current. Maintenance fees also gave the user access to very good, unlimited phone support, as well as other benefits.

But the problem is that many times the cost of support far outweighed the benefits and, if a user chose not to pay for support, he/she might not be able to upgrade the software anymore. The common workaround would be to renew the maintenance contract, which often meant paying for back support, in case an upgrade was really necessary. Or, in the case of Alias/Wavefront, pay a considerably higher fee for a direct upgrade. But Alias/Wavefront is the first high-end 3D software developer to admit that this model doesn't work that well for individuals and small companies, taking the pioneering step to change it. With the Maya price drop came the ability to purchase upgrades, as need, for a reasonable fee even if the user is not currently under a maintenance contract.

In this case it basically works out the same as with other volume market programs. But if you wish to benefit from the advantages offered by maintenance, such as an unlimited number of of phone calls to the support hotline, guaranteed ?free software upgrades, and access to additional materials on the A|W web site, annual full maintenance prices were also significantly reduced to $1,299 per year for Maya Complete (nodelocked) and $1,499 per year for Maya Unlimited (nodelocked). At these prices, maintenance costs make sense, specially if A|W delivers more than one upgrade in a year . For certain facilities, an annual maintenance contract may also be easier to budget for, since it is a more predictable expense.

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Related Keywords:Maya, Alias/Wavefront, 3D, Animation, Graphics, Special Effects, Mac, Macintosh, OS X

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