Envato has announced a change in support terms for ThemeForest and CodeCanyon, which creates a requirement for authors to provide six months of support, and offers buyers “support packs” for renewing support.
Support has not historically been required, but nearly every author notes that support is essentially required for sales purposes. From the Envato market blog:
Our most successful Authors talk about the support they provide being a key part of their success, and most of our authors advertise that they provide support and have done so for some time. However support has not been an intrinsic part of the system and site mechanics.
The new terms are a bit nuanced and will be a bit more complicated for authors that don't currently offer support. There are also a number of questions left to answer, which Collis Ta'eed — Envato's CEO — notes in the post.
- Support will be limited to 6 months
- Additional support can be purchased in “support packs”, though I'm not sure how that will be structured
- Support packs will be 70% author revenue, and 30% fee to Envato (something authors seem slightly unhappy about so far, based on what I've seen)
- New rules will be put into effect December 1st
- Updates will remain part of the initial purchase
Envato hasn't decided yet how long support packs will last, nor how much they will cost. They are also working out details for support promises, such as how long customers should expect for response times. The announcement post also addresses the very legitimate concern for the definition of support. They clearly state it will be a strict definition to prevent authors from having to provide unreasonable support.
Collis also did not note whether initial item prices will increase to account for the added support requirement. Considering so many authors provide it under the current model, they may not raise prices at all; though it'd be a great time to do it.
Collis also notes that unlimited plans are potentially unsustainable, which is quite a statement for a marketplace that has limited authors to that model for years:
We’re capping support at 6 months because the ‘lifetime’ support that authors sometime promise is often not economically sustainable and ultimately leads to more bad buyer experiences than good. For most buyers, the first few months represents the time when most help is needed. After six months,that ongoing support really is a premium request to the author and should be treated as such. There’s already plenty of signs that this is where the industry is headed.
One of my final questions about this move is in regard to how ThemeForest will create support channels. Many ThemeForest and CodeCanyon authors have already created alternative support channels through their own websites, often citing ThemeForest's system as difficult to manage. I assume authors will still be able to maintain existing systems, but may have to make adjustments for being able to manage support packs and whatnot within their platforms.
I definitely think this is a good change for Envato to make; it's honestly way past time. However, I understand why it's taken a while; as the announcement post indicates, there's a lot to consider and it's not an easy change. That's why they are announcing it now and waiting until December to implement the changes.
I'll be very interested to hear from authors about how they feel about this change. I have a feeling that a minority of buyers would actually buy support packs, though if they do that will be a nice benefit for authors to make more money on support-heavy customers.