ReValver MkIII (finally) has a bug-fix update, but the question remains about MkIII.V: Free or Pay?

October 17, 2010

Before I get into a bit of a rant, which I did post over at the Peavey ReValver forums, here’s a link to the update for MkIII: http://forums.peavey.com/viewtopic.php?f=10&t=16845

The following is something I posted on the Peavey ReValver MkIII forums in response to the developer’s statement, quoted as follows

Michael Ljunggren

Post subject: Re: Any “soft” release date for 3.5?

PostPosted: Wed Aug 11, 2010 8:31 amOk, here’s a date:
We currently plan to release Mk 3.5 last of October, or first of November. This can change, of course, but there is no reason for it unless we decide to add more stuff to it. Period.

“Release” means we send the CD to the printer. If you want to buy it from the shelves it will take some time; to buy it online you should be able to do it right away.

Will it be free? Most likely will it be a free update if you bought Mk III recently. What do I mean recently? Not decided. Don’t know. But if you had Mk III for a year or two, it won’t be a free update. (Probably some upgrade fee, but again, I have no numbers on that.)

I review software and as such I’d normally try to stay out of stuff like this, but I feel pretty strongly about this issue so I’m going to break the chain of positivity on the blog here and strongly disagree with the above statement. Alright, it’s great that ReValver is finally getting fixes for some nasty bugs that it’s had since launch (two and a half years ago). I’m sure the people still using it really appreciate that. I notice that the stat tracking shows that the Windows version has been downloaded 2831 times, while the Mac version has been downloaded 50. That makes sense, given that the Mac version was pretty much unusable until now (assuming it works well now – I’m not a Mac user so I can’t experiment and comment knowledgeably). Better late than never, as far as support goes, I guess. But… But.

I personally think selling ReValver MkIII.V to people who’ve had it for up to two years now would be kind of a slap in the face to those existing licensees. Sell them ReValver MkIV when it’s ready, alright, that’s fair, but don’t wait to provide necessary support two years after the launch of the product and then immediately afterward come out and say “alright, guys, buy our new upgrade! It includes some improvements to the engine and also has a few extra models!” It’s just… it seems wrong.

Especially given that competitors have released patches that add free additional functionality. Headlining that was Overloud with their TH1 1.1 patch, right after Winter NAMM 2009: tons of new effects, dirts, some new amps, new routing functionality, just a highly robust patch that responded to community concerns in a real way. Then came Amplitube Fender’s update a month or so later to include user requested effects both before and after the amps. Then Guitar Rig 4 came out, and had an update patch which added in some amps and effects. I’m probably forgetting some, those are the ones that stick with me from the other big commercial guys.

In the two years since ReValver MkIII was released, competition has toughened considerably, and some of them are very, very generous to users. The software pie isn’t very big to begin with, and if you want to stay in the game you need to take care of your users. That ought to be plain as day.

IKMM and Overloud in particular have been extremely good about support, with IKMM rolling several previous products into one and re-modeling the amps to bring them up to modern modeling spec; Overloud has been very progressive in addressing bugs and implementing feature requests, including great 64-bit support, changing licensing structures based on user feedback. They’ve also recently stated that they’ll be releasing an update to TH1 that includes something from their new SpringAge plugin to give guitarists a built-in spring reverb option. And Native Instruments has also been great with 64-bit support as well. I don’t like that they’re moving more and more in a “buy Komplete to get all the features” direction, but at least they’ve done a good job of taking care of the existing product.

At this point, competitively speaking, ReValver MkIII.V seems like it just plain should be provided to current license holders, as a reward for just sticking it out this long despite some pretty nasty bugs. Especially since note that it also improves the tube modeling behavior, a competitive update that would make ReValver near the top of the class with its competitors again. What was, at the time of release, an exceptionally powerful engine has, in the meantime, met its match with competitors’ new products. More than met its match in some cases. I’m sure the developer is on top of things, he’s a smart guy and he’s great with DSP. So I believe you when you say ReValver MkIII.V will have better sounding tube behavior. I just can’t see very many people happy about the idea of paying for what is, compared to the competition, basically patch material.

I’m getting the statement about improved tube behavior from a thread at GuitarAmpModeling, where mba64 says:

mba64 wrote:
I think it will be, havent been confirmed of this yet,It is peaveys call, all I can say is that some of the internal tube engine has gone 64bit so no fizzy sound no more.
And the new amps sounds and look great ,Diezel,Orange,Masterpiece,Sensation etc.

So. It’s Peavey’s call. If Peavey insists that users pay for MkIII.V, I guess some will buy it. Die-hards will stick by the product just because. Of course, knowing that MkIV is on the horizon might reduce the likelihood of that among others, and anyone who is familiar with the support history of the product is going to be a little wary of this evident double-dipping.

And, you know, the user base isn’t exactly thriving, judging by the update downloads. To make this product competitive again and to reinvigorate the lagging interest, I think it’s kind of incumbent on Peavey to make the right call and provide MkIII.V as a patch. More features than that have been included in patches by competitors who have consistently stayed on top of bug fixes, feature requests, and additional support. I can understand wanting to make more money, but it’s pretty egregious to specifically target longer-term supporters for having to pay for it, as they’re the ones who have suffered the longest from Peavey’s dumbfounding lack of support for what was at the time of the acquisition an extraordinarily cool product. The kind of additions and improvements that could make it more than ordinary again shouldn’t be withheld from the longest supporters.

Just my 2 cents.

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