At this point in time ACF Engine has only begun to be released for commercial adoption. We have a fairly standard licensing model where licenses are sold annually and they include activation keys for a given number of sites starting at 3-sites for $49 and we have additional packages up to 100 sites, and for those very large agencies that want that need more we offer a 1,000 sites package.
We have already been asked numerous times if we plan to release an LTD (Lifetime License Deal). The answer so far has been, maybe. This is a decision we have to make carefully, and not something to rush into because of the risks involved. As you may know ACF (Advanced Custom Fields) prior to it’s first sale from the founder Elliot Condon to Delicious Brains, expressed it’s financially challenges in supporting a large user base consisting of many LTD licenses. We can only speculate that this may have been a factor in the eventual sale of ACF, although we have no confirmation of that being the case. For those interested in the amazing story of the ACF plugin, the ACF plugin is now owned and managed by WP Engine, one of the premier WordPress focused web hosting companies.
At this point it is likely that an LTD plan will be released in the future, but only after a certain level of adoption is reached, and only when we feel the company as a whole has the stability to properly support the LTD user base. After all an LTD is essentially a long-term contract to provide support and service to users that purchase it. It’s neither ethical nor practical to sell an LTD if you’re not entirely sure of the future of your plugin and the underlying business. Of course at ACF Engine (and at SaberWP the parent company) we are anticipating strong sales, steady growth and a great future as a leading provider of plugin engineering services and plugins. However, we can’t say that the level of certainty is sufficient to warrant making promises for many years into the future. We would for instance, like to know that we’re in a solid position to resell the plugin to another company if for any reason we needed to. This is certainly not something we’re planning for actively, but we think this is important to ensuring LTD customers are not left without the support and service that they essentially paid for in advance.
While we’re on the related topic here of LTD plugin sales and the promises that companies make by offering them, it’s worth noting the backlash received by the makers of Oxygen builder. As many readers will know the Oxygen developers have recently announced a new page builder named Breakdance. This page builder has been under development by the Oxygen makers for several years, and that realization made many LTD license holders for Oxygen question the future of that plugin, and also question the ethics behind building something new that will be separate and will not be given freely to existing license holders.
At ACF Engine our position on creating competing products, or variant products in the same category as an LTD licensed product is that it’s not ethical, period. It’s something no company or developer should do if they want respect and loyalty from customers, and something we will definitely never do. That is not a criticism of the Oxygen developers, we respect that there may be other factors at play that we haven’t considered, or don’t know about from the publicly available communication. It’s simply worth pointing out that this aspect factors into our decision around an LTD, if we do an LTD for ACF Engine, we take the commitment seriously and that means that our company will pass up any related opportunities to build competing products or products even partly related.
To clarify our position this doesn’t mean we wouldn’t create an entirely different WordPress plugin in a different category, but only if the resources were available to ensure that it was not drawing capital or existing developers away from the ACF Engine plugin. On a practical note here, the purpose of plugins like ACF Engine is in part to replace existing plugins, to help create sites that only need ACF, ACF Engine and a few specialized plugins, and by virtue of that if we want to create a feature set in a given space, we’re going to build that either into ACF Engine itself. Or we’ll build such features into an ACF Engine extension (which in turn would be freely available to all ACF Engine license holders). For instance SaberWP has a background in medical training and more broadly e-learning. We’ve often utilized LearnDash and WP Pro Quiz in our commercial projects, building innovative medical training portals. However, we’d like to begin easing the reliance on LMS plugins, membership plugins and quiz systems, in order to leverage the more modern block-based structures that can be created with ACF Engine.