Subscription-based app pricing is a thorny issue that’s far from resolved, but one of the very worst arguments I hear whenever a company like Ulysses switches to a subscription model goes something like this:

“Why do I have to pay (again) for software I’ve already purchased?”

This is a flat out lie that people usually create for themselves to help support their negative reaction to a perceived price increase. The lie basically says, “if I want to keep using this app, I need to pay for it again.” In many cases, including the case with Ulysses, this is completely false. Ulysses clearly addresses this on their site:

The previous, single-purchase versions of Ulysses have both been removed from sale. They remain fully functional, of course, and we have even updated both versions for High Sierra and iOS 11 respectively. So, if you decide to keep using the “old” Ulysses, you should not encounter any problem. New features, however, will only be added to the subscription version in the future.

So there. The software you paid for is still “yours” in the sense that it is fully functional (as you paid for it) and will continue working indefinitely. You “own” it, and it’s not going away.

Will it work forever? Hell no. Software isn’t the same as a cast iron skillet. Software isn’t going to work the same 100 years from now. It’s probably not even going to work 100 weeks from now without being nursed through the vagaries of operating system updates, security patches, and user-expected support. When the developer of a cast iron skillet is done, they’re done. When the developer of a piece of software is done, they’re out of business—because if a developer quits, so does their product.

The more you can look at your software as a knowledge product—a product that rapidly decays without the service of its developers, the more subscription pricing makes sense objectively.

But that’s the crux. Software needs human buyers, and our brains are poorly evolved to evaluate the many abstractions of our modern economy.