Envato Implements Item Support Policy for ThemeForest and CodeCanyon

In August of 2014, Envato announced a new initiative that would allow sellers on CodeCanyon and ThemeForest to inform buyers whether or not an item is supported. Earlier today, Envato implemented an Item Support Policy for sellers on ThemeForest and CodeCanyon.

When browsing items on ThemeForest or CodeCanyon, a blue badge indicates the seller provides support. There’s also a badge and text that informs potential buyers if an item is not supported.

This Item is Supported
This Item is Supported

According to the policy, buyers automatically receive six months of support from the date of purchase. If you need support for an entire year, you can buy an extension for a nominal upgrade fee. Envato takes 30% and gives 70% of the purchase to authors.

The price of a 6-month support extension for a Regular License is calculated as:

  1. 37.5% of the item price (30% of the list price) when purchased at the same time as the license;
  2. 62.5% of the item price (50% of the list price) when purchased during the support period; and
  3. 87.5% of the item price (70% of the list price) when purchased after the support period has ended.

Andrew Freeman, product manager for Envato, says the changes provide a standardized definition of support, “Buyers will know exactly what to expect from all purchases on ThemeForest and CodeCanyon.”

Buyers who purchased supported items before the new policy went into effect have six months of free tech support starting on September 1st.

Disgruntled Authors

In a forum thread with over 165 responses, sellers discussed the pros and cons of the policy while some expressed anger. Jonathan Atkinson, founder of Cr3ativ, who sells several items on ThemeForest, thinks the policy is not as good as alternatives offered outside of the marketplaces because of its confusing complexity for both authors and buyers,

I’m not sure why Envato chose this solution when we already have a well established support/upgrade system in place within most of the WordPress community where 12 months of support is included in the purchase and customers receive a 50% discount to continue receiving support and updates.

The policy is a work in progress, “We will be monitoring the impacts of this change very closely and will be tweaking, improving and enhancing the support tools over coming weeks and months,” Freeman said.

If you’re a buyer or seller on ThemeForest or CodeCanyon, let us know what you think of the support policy in the comments.


42 responses to “Envato Implements Item Support Policy for ThemeForest and CodeCanyon”

    • Extra income will come from those who have a question after the 6 months period ends and are willing to spend money to get their answer.

      I’ve been an author on TF/CC for a few years and customers generally ask their questions within the first month or two.

      Rarely someone comes after half a year asking for support, and when they do it’s nothing urgent like a big bug or something like that, so they’ll think about whether it’s worth to pay about $30 to ask about it.

      So, there is income potential, but most likely it’s insignificant.

      And there will be those who don’t want to purchase a support pack and will threaten with a 1 star rating if their support request is not answered.

      • Not entirely accurate. According to the table on the site Jeff linked too explaining the terms, you are not just paying for answers but also ongoing updates to the plugin and theme. That’s something we all pay for when renewing a Woo or Gravity Forms license (for example).

        If I was, for example, setting up a theme for a client’s site (whivh according to Go Daddy accounts for about half of all WordPress sites on their platform), I’d pay the extra $30 so the client could leave me be or so I had somewhere to get an answer or update fast.

        I hear what you’re saying and agree that most customers will ask within 8 weeks of purchase but just like undercoating or extended warranties, when sold right, people will buy ongoing support and updates. Hell, in this case they’re even worth it. Unlike extended warranties and under coating.

        • Hi

          The updates are not affected not the support payment. Updates will always be free. You can read the policy on envato. http://themeforest.net/page/item_support_policy

          The case is that most authors which are selling big will not start using this as they already replied in the forum thread on envato as they dont want to loose customers. If one author does not impose the policy he has a big sales advantage on the others. So more will follow.

          I think Envato shoots themselves in their feet as although many people wont need extensive support seeying such on initial purchase will hold people off and have them buy themes and plugins elsewhere.

          What if plugins have major updates like we saw last month with the revslider? The complete interface changed and there where many issues. Customers who have their support expired now need to buy new support because the plugin changed majorly and causes many issues? Those questions bombs on their support forum where caused by their own doing and not by the users having normal startup questions?

          Its a bad idea what envato is doing here. I am and i know many others are already looking elsewhere and buying stuff from other parties.

          • As was pointed out by Neo, most questions and issues come within the first 8 weeks so 6 months vs. 12 only makes a big difference if you’re reusing a theme over and over for your clients. In which case, you should be paying for ongoing support.

            If we take SIDEKICK for example, we use a key system to ensure that you aren’t using your single site license on multiple installs. Most Theme developers don’t have that sort of tracking and setting it up is time consuming. So they have no way of knowing. An ongoing support fee is a great way to ensure that even if a single site license is being abused, that the author and Envato still make some sort of ongoing fee.

            As far as the 30% cut goes: Envato is a marketplace, they make their money when an author makes a sale. In exchange, the author gets traffic, marketing and sales support. We can discuss whether it’s worth it but the fact that there is a cut taken isn’t “interesting”, it’s entirely reasonable.

          • There are a bunch of issues here. Let’s start on the chronological basis

            1) Item support was suggested due to some authors complaining that a percentage of buyers wanted stuff like customisation, installation and troubleshooting. And some of these trouble shooting took hours and the culprit theme/plugin isn’t the authors.

            And these buyers will give a bad rating to authors that don’t listen to their requests.

            2) So Envato proposed a new licensing term, with limited support, which can be renewed. This caused some authors to start pushing for yearly renewals of all licences INCLUDING previous purchases.

            So, if you’ve invested $ 5000 on Envato, you’ll need to reinvest $2500 yearly, just to keep your license.

            The biggest winners would be major sellers. After all, digital products do not cost a cent to distribute. If you have 10,000 sales yearly for themes, you would be filthy rich after 3 years.

            Here’s why
            1st year – 10,000 x $20 = $200,000
            2nd year – 10,000 x $20 + 10,000 x $10 = $300,000
            3rd year – 10,000 x $20 + 20,000 x $10 = $400,000
            4th year = $500,000
            5th year = $600,000

            This was rejected by Envato, but some authors are still pushing for it :(

        • If updates were a part of that then it would not only generate a nice extra income it would also make it possible for developers to keep improving existing themes.

          As it is now, few months after release sales drop almost to zero and it’s simply not financially viable to put time into new features or improving existing features when a theme is making $50 per month.

          Updates being part of that subscription would definitely change that. And that was what the authors have been asking Envato to implement a long time ago. Unfortunately they didn’t think it was a good idea.

          • The problem is, authors on Envato are asking Envato to retro-actively apply renewals to even previous purchases. That will affect hundreds of thousand people.

            If you have built a site on some theme and plugins and sold them for almost cost, you then need to break your agreement with your customer or pay yearly to keep giving them updates.

            That’s why I rather purchase my stuff outside of Envato. If an item was bought on lifetime, the devs do NOT change them to yearly renewals, unlike what some authors on Envato would do :)

            Even Pippen of EDD and AffiliateWP, honoured the lifetime licenses when he shifted Restrict Content Pro out of CodeCanyon.

  1. I just spent 2 hours reading all the posts on this topic on their forum. The updates will still be available. It is the support that is being changed. Freeman commented “Buyers are fearful of having to pay for basic updates/security patches in the future and some have said they wold not buy that item if they had to, meaning the author may not get the sale in the first place”.

    I am wondering how this flies in American law. Envato sold their products with lifetime support and after the sale they change their policy? I remember when Woo Themes did this and we all know how that turned out. I expect to see lawsuits especially from agencies that have purchased multiple copies.

    I do think that Elegant Themes and other theme clubs will benefit from this move. It is not like Envato has a great reputation or good user experience. Envato plays by its own rules. It is impossible to get a refund and since it is a digital swap-meet you never know if the product you are buying is good or shit. One of their best selling points if you were able to find a quality product was the lifetime support and updates. Other than that you were taking a chance purchasing any item from Envato.

    Unfortunately I have 30 or so clients with TF themes. They asked for them and I tried to sway them away but could not. I will have to figure out how to go forward with supporting their websites. Some of the themes were purchased years ago and I think the rate is 70% of the theme cost for support after one year. So every time a major wordpress update comes out and your theme malfunctions you will need to buy a support pack. Nice work if you can get it. I can’t wait to see the one star reviews. BTW Freeman said they will address a way for authors to scrub the bad reviews. Wow.

      • Luigi-Lifetime support is available at Elegant Themes / Divi for a few hundred dollars for as many sites as you want. I was an Envato user – but one week with Divi & their great support & several Divi FB groups – one with one 6,000 users – and I was sold! Nothing will ever be perfect – but I think the balance at Elegant Themes / Divi is beyond compare.

    • “Envato sold their products with lifetime support and after the sale they change their policy?”

      This is incorrect. Up until this change, support has been completely optional and at the discretion of the theme author. It still is. Theme authors can opt out of providing support. This change is designed to formalize what many good theme authors have been doing informally (i.e. providing support).

  2. I think soon people will hook into this and create their business around the support. They might create a forum where they provide support for half or even more less the price envato is asking.

    Then they buy a support package for each item at envato’s and forward questions they cant answer to the original theme or plugin builder. This way the questions for all themes and plugins are bundle to one purchase at envato’s.

    And how about theme developers who bought a extended license? Do they have to purchase support? What a joke. If the plugin has major updates causing a theme or website to break what happens then if your support has expired?

    They are not responsible for breaking the website. The plugin developer is as he produced a crappy update or plugin overhaul. And now what? You need to buy a support package because the developer did a bad programming job? How stupid can it be?

    This is a very bad change envato emposes on people.

    I think Envato is trying to get their income back at the level it was in 2013. But the market is saturated. And since envato also is charging tax to the European market on top of the listed sales prices it even more declined their sales. I bought stuff evry month but since the tax changes and price increases i stopped and did not buy a single thing anymore.

    I also disliked theit stupid policy where you charge your account with money in order to avoid the paypal charges for single purchases. If you dont use up the money you added to your account within a year Envato takes it without any notification. It is just gone. You should not have been so stupid and let it in your account…. What an idiotic rule.

    If they want to get their sales back at a normal level they are doing it the wrong way.

      • Because if you’ve purchased the licence on lifetime updates (via Envato), having the licence change to yearly renewals is just low class.

        You don’t see that with WooCommerce, AffiliateWP, Gravity Forms, Restrict Content Pro, BackupBuddy, Ninja Forms, UpdraftPlus and the likes.

        Rather, if you had purchased on lifetime, these companies honour their lifetime licences to you. Some Envato authors (not all), are trying to be low class by dishonoring the lifetime licenses which they sold their items on :)

  3. Just another money-grab for Envato and more confusion for the end user. If a product is doing well, the economics will mandate support – it’s just good for future sales. If a product is not doing well, a $30 stipend won’t bring an author (who has already moved on to another product or abandoned the product) out of the closet. Surely more bad publicity on the horizon for an already threatened business model.

    • Your free support ends 6 months from now. They changed the policy. If you ask any question after that point and they are not obligated to answer to you. If not, you need to buy a new support package for the theme or plugin you are asking the question on.

      • Ah…ok. Thanks Neo. I think I may need to contact the theme developers directly and see what their position is (if they have one). Not able to go back to my clients and ask them to drop more $$$ into a support package that was initially offered as ‘lifetime support’.

        As an aside – I’m a business person too, and I don’t begrudge a company trying to earn a profit, but I do ask that a company honors the initial agreement.

        • That is exactly the problem. As you have build the website for your client as is. Now once the theme, a plugin or even wordpress updates you are at risk that the website crashes. WordPress is famous for it’s last minute changes which where not part of the beta releases, But we also see plugins completely rewritten and crash websites also on release because they did not think of making it monkey proof.

          So now you who are in between your client and the sales party are stuck with the problems and you need to buy support for issues you did not cause.

          IMO a real …. situation envato puts you in. The 4 letter word at the dots …. you can guess at that is what is what envato does.

  4. As a coming costumer at TF I find those “extra prices” far to high for 6 months.

    It’s fair enough to want/need to be payed for giving support more than 6 months, but why does TF have to shovel in 30% of that (maybe hard earned) money?

    Let’s say a “good” theme costs 53$ – 38% of that is approx. 21$.
    I would consider giving that extra for eg. 3 years of updates” (if any), including “fair” support (beginners help for 6 months, guidance for the rest of time)

    3 years is almost “forever” in the internet world (as in “life span”) and time anyway to “look around” to maybe check out something new.

    Clear rules, sellers can offer costumers to pay that solution or not, devs get more money etc.

    • The problem with buying from TF, is that theme authors keep asking Envato to push the prices up. Rather, if you prefer, you can purchase StudioPress, Elegant Themes, TeslaThemes, Themes Kingdom, CSS Igniter and the likes on lifetime.

      That will help if you run an agency, or plan to have multiple WP properties.

  5. This is confusing. Please someone help correct my understanding: Envato has a policy for authors to offer support. That’s great. I feel every product in any market should offer support or warranties for their customers. That’s smart biz 101. Now, If the author accepts, then the buyer has the option to purchase support via the Envato marketplace? Therefore, Envato gets an average 30% cut of the author’s support sale? If this is true, this is absurd. Envato is a marketplace to sell products. Period. How does a marketplace justify or have the audacity to take a cut from a service? I’m sick of hearing, “Envato is a business, and businesses need to make money.” That’s a failed novice excuse. There are plenty of ways for a business to make money the “right way.” Who’s the genius who thought of this business model? And when will they be fired? I’ve been following this Envato drama for quite some time now. I have a product I’m about to sell but have major doubts about doing business with this company. I’m about 60/40 right now about to create my own marketplace and do things the, “right way.” All in all, we are only relying on Envato for their market exposure. Overall, they are a bad company to do business with and as more developers get better skilled, they will eventually stop their dependency on Envato and create their own marketplace. Envato is tarnishing the WP community!

  6. Interesting that “support” is being added on the client invoices as a separate item and the price of the actual theme or plugin is reduced by that amount. Previously the buyer would see “Item Name $20” and now it’s “Item Name $14, support $6”.

  7. As a buyer for clients’, I don’t understand the need for making it anymore convoluted when, as mentioned, there was already a well established support system in place. Buyers knew what ‘support’ they were getting when they made their purchase. I never received anything, as a buyer, warning or telling me of this change (let alone it’s justification or rationale). So, changing the rules after the fact, is not only inconvenient, it stinks and leaves a bad taste! I personally don’t like “Gotchas”!

  8. Hmmm,
    Interesting. I thought support policies there were per-vendor. Of course I don’t buy Themeforest themes, although people hire me to change and fix them all the time because they’re bizarre, buggy, and highly confusing, even the top best-sellers. :)

    The only thing I’ve bought from either of those is a plugin, whose developer is outstanding, and I believe he’s offering support ad infinitum. I imagine that a vendor who wants to do permanent support could override that policy.

    Ever try to read their policies, such as what constitutes an Extended license? The legalese is nearly unfathomable, and English is my first language. :)

    They’re just so nutty!

  9. I saw the link to this article in my wordpress dash, and read the comments with great interest.

    I am a themeforest buyer, not a designer (I am a ballerina with the Royal Ballet in the UK). I disagree with all the comments slagging themeforest authors, at least insofar as the theme developer I use: Striking MultiFlex. I believe it is above reproach for both how it works as a theme, and I think the support offered by its developers could certainly be classified as legendary. I have owned it for 5 years now, and I think they have offered well over 70 updates always updating code, scripts, and a constant flow of new features. But what I like best is that everything, everything, works.

    I read the comments about Divi. I tried it and I thought it was good, unlike some other Elegant products i experimented with in the past. But the Striking guys have a private theme called WP Champion which I canoodled a license from them, and it really blows. I am now working on redesigning my site with it. They have been dropping hints on the support forum about releasing it to the public, so we shall see.

    I don’t know what Striking is going to do about this new support policy, they have not said anything yet and I think they mostly ignore Themeforest other then supporting Striking MultiFlex religiously. I am going to ask on their support forum and find out.

    Anyways, I thought I would “dance” into the discussion as every time I come here all I read is hate for Themeforest and its authors. Perhaps because I have been using Striking all these years I am insulated from this and these perceived issues about Themeforest and the products sold at it, but the Striking team have been incredible from a theme owner’s perspective. I do note that after 5 years, they still have a 4.75 rating out of 5, and all one sees is a stream of happy comments in the comments thread from its users – so I am not alone in my belief about them.

    And btw, although I am a professional dancer, I am no wallflower, math is my strong subject and comprises much of what I am studying at university in my off season. I love numbers and I love code!

    Alys Shee

  10. Wow that’s a confusing policy change. First the good authors at ThemeForest have been providing support for years via their own support forums — and I have to say those who have forums have been doing a great job of providing support.

    For people new to TF/CC, they are going to think that “supported” as a tag is very important, not knowing that the good authors have been providing this for years. I’m not sure how they are going to handle displaying support for the quality authors who have their own forums/off-site support well established.

    Or for that matter, if they are going to claim “support” on items sold by authors who don’t answer any questions.

  11. And I have another issue… if I now have to pay EXTRA for support I didn’t think I had to pay for, what happens when one of these developers is non-responsive? I have several TF developers that are taking 2-3 weeks to respond to an issue that is clearly a bug in their theme. If I pay for support, I expect SUPPORT. I will be demanding a refund on most all of my paid support I chose to pay for as soon as a developer does not respond in 24 hours. I don’t complain much now as I didn’t pay extra for support. But if I am now forced to pay for support for something I thought was included, you can damn well bet I will expect “paid” levels of service. This is where the bad reviews are going to come from.

    I really love ElegantThemes.com – I use them whenever I possibly can. This is just strengthening my resolve there.

  12. I have stopped buying at Envato and Codecanyon, themeforest, etc. for good reason. First there are no guarantees of updates and not that the product will even be on the site for a full year. I have had more products disappear than I would like to have believed.

    Now there is a 6 month update policy. You know what is going to happen. Author won’t release updates for 6 month periods, ratchet in revenue, minimize bug fixes and any feature releases. I’d rather buy from a private vendor that has a template and plugin site and a loyal set of customers. I’m done with Envato and this latest money grab.

  13. I can totally understand why vendors want to put a support package in place. However, I feel it leaves a a nasty taste in the mouth if you are paying for support on a theme you’ve bought BEFORE they introduced this policy. If I buy a new theme from this point on and know I have to pay for support after six months that’s acceptable.

    There are of course situations where themes/downloads have been “removed either by staff or the author”. What happens under those circumstances? If a theme vanishes a week after I’ve bought support will I get a refund? I’ve bought 20 themes from Theme Forest over the years and six of those are now no longer available.

  14. I’m weighing in late on this but this really irks me.

    If Envato wants to change their policy, fine w/e, but do it for all purchases going forward. Don’t mess with purchases from BEFORE the change.

    I recently just found that my support for ThemeNectar’s Salient had expired; which I purchased well before this policy change. Now, in order for me to utilize their Ticksy support (for bug reports etc.) I get a notice saying I have to either a buy a new license or renew. #irritation

    To renew for 6 months is just over $40 and to repurchase the entire thing again is $59. That’s absolutely asinine since that’s not what was agreed to on initial purchase.

    You can keep your greedy grabby hands away Envato because I’ll be steering everyone I know away from any and all Envato purchases and pointing them at other marketplaces.


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