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Pricing of Small Plugins in Invision Community vs. Xenforo and Woltlab


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Hello everyone,

I've been a long-time user of various forum software platforms, including Invision Community, Xenforo, and Woltlab. Over the years, I've noticed a significant difference in how these platforms handle plugin pricing, especially for smaller plugins. I wanted to open a discussion on this topic and hear your thoughts.

My Experience with Plugin Pricing:

  • Invision Community: In my experience, Invision Community (3rd Party Developers) charges for almost every small plugin. It’s not uncommon to see prices ranging from $10 to $15 for simple features, such as displaying a member’s reaction count under their avatar in a post. While I understand the need to compensate developers for their work, these prices seem a bit steep for such minor additions.

  • Xenforo and Woltlab: In comparison, Xenforo and Woltlab seem to offer more reasonable pricing for similar small plugins. In many cases, minor features are either free or come at a much lower cost. This approach makes it easier for forum owners to add useful functionalities without breaking the bank.

Points for Discussion:

  1. Value for Money: Do you think the prices for small plugins in Invision Community reflect the value they add to your forum? Are there specific features you believe justify the higher cost?

  2. Alternative Solutions: Are there other platforms or methods you use to acquire necessary plugins without overspending? Have you found certain developers or marketplaces more reasonable in their pricing?

  3. Impact on Forum Customization: How does the cost of small plugins affect your ability to customize and enhance your forum? Have you ever decided against adding a feature due to its cost?

  4. Availability of Plugins: Since the closure of the centralized marketplace, I've found it increasingly difficult to find the plugins I need. Now that plugins are spread across different providers' forums, it takes more time and effort to locate and purchase the right tools. 

Personal Perspective: I don’t mind paying for larger, more complex plugins that significantly enhance the forum's functionality. However, paying $15 for a minor feature seems excessive to me. Additionally, the difficulty in finding plugins due to the closure of the centralized marketplace has added to the frustration. I’d love to hear your opinions and experiences on these matters.

Edited by Karfunkel
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4 minutes ago, Karfunkel said:

Invision Community charges for almost every small plugin

I want to correct you here, we do not offer plugins. All plugins are created by third parties and they set their own pricing. We have nothing to do with the pricing or any service they offer.

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56 minutes ago, Karfunkel said:

Do you think the prices for small plugins in Invision Community reflect the value they add to your forum?

That’s not a useful question, because there is no general answer. Every potential customer needs to decide for themselves. And based on that calculation you either buy it or not — like with every single product decision in a supermarket, car dealership or whatever. Some communities make hundreds of dollars in ads every month. They don’t worry about investing $15 for a small improvement. 

Just look at it from the developer’s perspective. A plugin takes X amount of hours to code, test and support in the future. Multiply that with an hourly rate and you have the amount of money the developer wants to get back in earnings through the plugin price times the expected sales. Ending up with $15 for products that aren’t sold thousands of times isn’t surprising. It’s a bare minimum.  

And here comes the really bad news. Those prices only worked with the Marketplace and its large audience. With Invision Community 5, we can expect these smaller plugins to either go away or get much more expensive, because of fewer sales and the calculation presented above. 

Edited by opentype
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I used to have some very easy $5 modifications before. However, at some point, the minimum cost possible on the IPS Marketplace was set at $10 to cover fees, eventual chargebacks, payout fees, etc. That change increased the cost of all those small plugins that used to be $5.

Selling it for $5 on my site and $10 in the old Marketplace would have made things unfair for those who used it.

 

With every developer handling things on their own/separate sites, you might see smaller prices for minor v5 modifications. No idea if it will happen or not, it's just my thought. 🤷‍♂️

 

EDIT: @opentype also made some fair points, though.

The marketplace gave a lot more visibility to the available modifications. I still think IPS should have kept the Marketplace available, but make it redirect to the developers' sites (just like Invisioneer does). The idea included adding a big red warning about not supporting anything in it. IPS didn't think it would be a good enough solution, though. They wanted to avoid any kind of possible misunderstanding and decided to remove it all.

Edited by teraßyte
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49 minutes ago, Karfunkel said:

makes it easier for forum owners to add useful functionalities without breaking the bank

As far as the costs are concerned, that's true. But you're doing it at the expense of stability. Instability can break the bank even more. Think of not inaccessible site, updates issues, blown error logs, performance or SEO issues like de-indexing from the Google and so on.

I use and write plugins myself. But I check twice and triple if a "useful" functionality is indeed required. Or is it just a nice gimmick I can live without. This approach saves me a lot of time, that I can spend on community building instead of solving technical difficulties and playing ping-pong with IPS, hosting, and plugin developers. 😉 

Edited by Sonya*
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Price is one component.  It's the most obvious component, but it's only one component.  

There were some major, structural differences between IPS and these other ecosystems (when IPS had the Marketplace). Even though IPS technically didn't set the prices, they strongly and indirectly influenced Marketplace pricing: 

- IPS used to act as the seller. While this provided significant convenience and trust for clients, it also meant that IPS took on all of the risk of a large third party Marketplace: chargebacks, fraudulent charges, clients stealing and sharing.  There's a cost to this.  

- IPS used to do a basic code check. IPS removed 3rd party devs who failed to adhere to certain standards; some of those developers are actively developing for other software ecosystems.  Other ecosystem developers still do dumb sh## like Ioncube encoding and secret ping backs.  There's a cost to this.  

- IPS develops faster.  This means 3rd party devs need to develop faster too.   In some ecosystems, clients can stay on the same version for 4-5 years without upgrading.  You get the benefits of a stable, slow moving code base; the downside is that, well, your next core major version is a glorified theme update that you waited 3 years on.  There's a cost to this.  

At the end of the day, you're buying in to the totality of the ecosystem (the base software and the third party community, official support, community support, development of new features, how snappy their music is in their videos, etc). Looking at the price of plugins is one decision among many to choose IPS. 

Edited by Joel R
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