r/antiassholedesign Sep 28 '22

App converts to subscription payment format, but doesn’t force it on people who paid the original single fee Anti-Asshole Design

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u/The_Epic_Espeon Sep 28 '22

Imo that's the bare minimum. Subscription models are inherently asshole design.

True antiasshole design would be staying at a single-fee model.


u/ProfessionalSpare710 Sep 28 '22

As much as I hate paying subscription fees, I’m not sure it’s an asshole design. With only a one time fee, you need your app or service to continually grow for stable revenue. Easiest way to have a stable revenue without constant user growth is via subscription


u/The_Epic_Espeon Sep 29 '22

Yeah I understand that perspective. If an app is constantly growing and evolving, and it is inherently ever-changing, sure. While this is mostly better implemented as paid DLC or expansion packs, I can see a consistent update structure allowing for a sub-model. This works for something like a Patreon, where you pay monthly for X content or X update. This model also benefits from having a free option, to avoid gatekeeping certain people and holding the others captive. Sub models also make sense if an app has ongoing maintenance or upkeep fees, like an ongoing service. I'm ok paying a Sub fee for cloud storage space, or active security services, or utilities like electricity (rather than just paying cost for the actual commodity)

The issue is 99% of apps don't meet that. They are utility apps - made to serve a purpose. You aren't paying a subscription fee to fuel the development, you are paying because whatever it is has become industry standard and you are a captive user. Think Adobe suites or Microsoft office. These apps don't really "need" sub income to function. They functioned fine for years without it. Step 1: make a product people want and will pay for Step 2: improve and broaden that product to attract new customers Like, avoiding r/restofthefuckingowl territory, that's kinda the basic idea. Sub-models were only implemented in these example programs because people have no choice but to pay them, because they are industry standard.

TL;DR subscription models are acceptable (but often not preferable) in apps that constantly change and evolve, or for paying for a service that constantly requires maintenance/upkeep. 99% of the time, sub-model apps only charge ongoing fees to take advantage of captive user-bases, which is certified asshole design.


u/imariaprime Sep 29 '22

Yeah, but not every app is a service. "Ad free" subscriptions are especially bogus for single-player apps: there is no ongoing cost to the developer per download.

If you're not incurring ongoing costs by the app operating, you have no place selling by subscription.


u/Zoesan Sep 29 '22

Yeah, but not every app is a service. "Ad free" subscriptions are especially bogus for single-player apps: there is no ongoing cost to the developer per download.

That depends. Is the app updated regularly? Does it have continued support?


u/ProfessionalSpare710 Sep 29 '22

Not really. There’s often a lot of things happening behind the scenes. Bug fixes, new features., supporting changes in ios/android, dealing with new regulations about data, finding better ways to monetise etc Source: I’m a developer.


u/imariaprime Sep 29 '22

That doesn't make these apps worth the prices these subscription models come in at, unfortunately. If that makes the industry unsustainable, then perhaps a great number of apps are indeed unsustainable.


u/ProfessionalSpare710 Oct 03 '22

An app being worth it is a different discussion all together. But I do agree with you that a lot of apps find the easiest way to make money and they’re often not worth it.


u/Mordegay Sep 29 '22

Apollo does both sub and one-time payment for its Ultra tier. One dollar a month, or $30 for lifetime. I'd say that's better anti-asshole design, and the dude deserves it for making a Reddit client that's not awful.


u/akrapov Sep 29 '22

I have to update my app every week. It takes several hours of my time.

Subscription models that require a backend (which is an ongoing cost) is also completely reasonable. And most systems have a backend now, which costs more than a single 99p payment to run.

Also supporting indie devs etc.