While paying for plugins is nothing new, I’m predicting that by the end of 2010, there will be a large assortment of plugins for WordPress that will be available for purchase. As we wind down 2009, I’m already beginning to see the trend in action with at least 3 of my 31 installed plugins switching to a paid model. Each person is doing something a little different but the end result is the same. I have to pay to keep using it.
Now I don’t particularly have a problem with plugin authors charging for support or for services around the plugin but I’m seeing the plugin being bundled as part of the purchase. So in a way, you’re not only paying for the plugin, you’re paying for access to support. In most cases, the free plugin becomes dormant and I’m forced to either stick with what works until a version of WordPress is released which breaks the plugin or I pony up the cash to receive upgrades. Shopp, GravityForms and now Ajax Edit Comments each have their own repository server that enables customers to receive upgrades. This is all part of the deal.
I remember a post a year or so ago asking people what would they pay for that they currently did’nt have to. WordPress was one of the things people would pay for if it had a price tag. My question is slightly different. What if every plugin you use on your site requires you to pay money before you get access to upgrades, support, etc? Personally, I don’t mind paying for great work and I can part with my cash for three or five plugins but not for 31.
Not to put down the work of those making a business out of their plugin but something to keep in mind is that as it stands, plugins hosted in the WordPress.org plugin repository contain no price tags. However, some of them do have links, wording, and such to up-sell services or the pro version of the plugin. I don’t have a problem with that as long as the slimmed down version is not crippled to the point where it doesn’t make sense to use the lower end version.
If the authors of the plugins I use on my own site all decided to ditch the free version in favor of a paid model in order to help them make a living, that is their decision to make. However, one of the greatest assets of the WordPress plugin world is that there is an abundant amount of choices for most tasks. Some better than others.
My hope is that the WordPress plugin repository will continue to be free of pay-for plugins. This will insure that I will always have a place to browse an assortment of free alternatives. If the plugin repository were to ever allow commercial plugins to be listed alongside free ones, I’m thinking that the commercial choices would far outweigh the free ones. I really don’t want to go down the road I traveled with Joomla where anytime I wanted to have cool functionality added to my site, I had to pay for it.
Is this a trend you also see in 2010 or do you see something else? Any thoughts on the matter?