An interesting take on things...
Software companies don't have an easy road. It's not just the software theft, which remains a persistent problem that saps the vitality of the industry, but also the need to keep up with the OS and hardware updates being thrust upon them. Add that to people complaining about the cost of upgrades. (So are software buyers some of the whiniest customers in the world, or what? I mean, do you ever get an email from Ford saying "Bring in your 2004 model, and we'll give you a new model for an extra $1,000.") Then add the trials and tribulations of copy protection - users hate it, companies hate it even more - and you have an industry that has to pedal really fast just to stay in place.
That right there is a little piece of truth. Now that I've spent some time on the side of the software business where things are made, rather than used, I have to say that it's an odd state of affairs.
1) For some reason I can't fathom, TDM users don't complain about prices, even though a plug that runs native and one that runs in TDM are essentially the same amount of work for a company that does both. So they'll happily pay $899 for a plug that requires a $10,000 dongle, but the native version is $499 and people bitch and moan about that. That's one thing I just don't get.
2) Windows users are way more bitchy than OSX users. If you asked me when we started this, I'd have said the opposite, but now I know better. When one releases a plugin on both platforms, the OSX users will say "hey, that looks like something that is useful" or "I don't think I need that," and leave it at that. Windows users, on the other hand, will generally go on ad nauseum about why this feature or that wasn't included, why the copy protection blows, why there aren't enough presets, why it is too expensive, why it looks cheap, how they would have done it far better, how there are 96 free plugins that do the same thing, etc.
3) However, OSX users aren't getting off the hook that easy. It is _really_ difficult to keep up with Apple's moods vis-a-vis their operating system. It is so much easier to make a Windows VST than even an OSX VST, never you mind the gigantic PITA that is AU. And every time an OS update comes down the pike, we have to re-learn how to make an AU. It is really quite a struggle.
Our philosphy regarding pricing and upgrades is well known, so I won't go in to it at length here, except to say that I think, on the average, native plug-in makers charge too much. If prices were lower on the average, piracy wouldn't be so rampant. Or at least, people would feel worse about it than they do. Perceived value is a tenuous thing, especially when what you're selling is basically a stream of ones and zeros.
One final thought on this, then I'll return to our regularly scheduled programming. One of the main problems on the Windows side is the glut of freeware. One customer wrote our info line not too long ago, basically asking why he should buy DubStation when there were several similar products already available for free. I answered thus: when you purchase a plugin from a company, you're also purchasing a manual, someone to talk to if you have trouble or desires, an upgrade path which will follow the operating system's upgrades, and the relatively certain knowledge that the plug-in will follow the "rules" that are intrinsic to it being a professional plugin.
When you use freeware, or get a cracked plug-in, you rarely get any of those things. With a lot of freeware, you're basically buying in to something that will almost certainly become abandonware at some point, when the teenager that wrote the software grows up and actually starts working. That sentence will certainly earn me some ire, but I call it like I see it.