Worst licensing experience ever. Here's an idea

Other than just posting a rant, I’m genuinely interested on any plans to overhaul how Cubase is licensed to something that is not the current annoying, expensive, slow and confusing process that is in place at the moment. Here’s some feedback, including an idea in the end.

Customer experience (new product):

Let’s start with the fact that advertising software globally requires a digital-only option. The fact that you require a physical device to be bought separately means that I:

  • Can’t use the software I just purchased because I still need the USB licenser. Depending on where you live, you may pay hundreds of dollars and then have to wait for months before being able to use it. It happened to me already.
  • Need to pay additional money for something that adds zero value. In my case the total cost with shipping is 58 euros. And I repeat, that’s additional money (and time!) that I spent solely to fulfill your paranoid concern about piracy, I got no value whatsoever as a customer.
  • Need to have two separate accounts! One for shopping products, one for the rest…

Once I received the device, I needed to download yet another app with a very counter intuitive UI to activate the product.

And then… I need to spare a USB port to have the device permanently plugged in, otherwise the software won’t work. For people using laptops, where ports are scarce, this is extremely annoying and could mean spending additional money on a USB hub or similar.

Overall, that was the worst experience I ever had in terms of licensing, customer support didn’t help at all and only got Steinberg’s attention on Twitter… extremely poor.

There’s more though. Usb flash drives are easy to lose, so what happens in that case?

Replacing license / usb elicenser:

I moved houses recently, and lost the USB eLicenser. The process to bounce back from that is very confusing, I ended up going through the so-called “Zero Downtime” process. It ended up deactivating my license and providing a temporary code that can be used for 25 hours.

This is not helpful at all because it turns out it only works if you DO have a USB elicenser. The process is for the licenses, not the licenser. Licenses are digital, you can’t lose them, so I can’t even conceive a legitimate scenario where this can be useful other than when you change your computer, in which case… maybe you should find a name that reflects that scenario?

The best part is that in order to get a new license a you can’t just use their portal. Steinberg requires that you download a non-editable PDF form, print it, fill it, sign it, scan it and send it over email, and if the USB device was stolen, you also need to attach a police report. In 2021. Please read that again, it’s truly unbelievable.

It’s a completely rogue process, no traceability at all since there’s no associated ticket. Moreover, the advertised time for assessing the request is at least 3 days (in my case it’s been 5 and counting), so the “Zero downtime” is insufficient even if I had a spare usb device!. Of course I didn’t get any acknowledgment of the email, no timeframes, absolutely nothing in the meantime.

You may had figured out by now that this is pointless anyway, because the right process for recovering a lost device is to buy a new one and wait for it to arrive all the way from Europe in the middle of a global pandemic. Cool.

About piracy:

First off, Steinberg seems desperately concerned about piracy, which is pretty silly, considering how effectively software is cracked these days. Usually people buy original software when they want to support the creators, but mostly to get the benefits of a seamless experience and customer support.

I honestly think I would have a better time making a pirate copy work in my machine than what I described so far, just think about it. Instead of putting all your efforts in suppressing piracy, why don’t you focus on making the experience of your product compelling so that people opt to buy?

An idea:

Here’s an idea: implement Multi-Factor Authentication. Unless the owner physically taps a notification in their personal mobile phone when Cubase is launched, it won’t work. This means that:

  • Customers don’t have to spend additional money (Use Google Authenticator, or Okta, or your own wrapper if you want).
  • Customers can use their software right after purchase.
  • It’s purely digital, so no more stupid paperwork, losing devices, additional processes, etc.
  • Even better: this is also best practice in terms of security, so you get aligned with the rest of the software industry and have a stronger auth layer for any future development.

Sorry for the wall of text, I thought I went through a lot just to use this software, it’s only fair that you take the time to reflect on how badly designed this experience is.

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License management and the future of the eLicenser - changes ahead - Announcements - Steinberg Forums

Follow-up Regarding eLicenser Discontinuation - Announcements - Steinberg Forums


Nah, I just scrolled right on by it. Looked very wordy though. That must have taken quite awhile to write.

I don’t give my phone number to corporations PERIOD!!!
I hate dongles, but I’ll gladly take a dongle over giving out my phone number.

Chill out, MFA doesn’t work like that, you don’t need to provide your phone number, it’s just an app.

Oh, finally! Thanks for the link. No specifics yet, I hope they post an update soon…

My Studio is underground and faraday shielded so mobile phones won’t work. It would mean by every start I’d have to leave the studio and practically exit the building just to confirm I’m launching the software.
I’ve been using the dongle now for years and have no problem with it.

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For us that use apple the best thing would be to have cubase in app-store. Than it will work on both ipad and mac.