What Version of Cinema 4D Should I Buy or Subscribe to?

August 8, 2019 - By 

With several options to choose from, which version of Cinema 4D is right for you? Follow along with this guide to choose the right version or subscription.

In an attempt to simplify the entire purchasing process, Maxon has eliminated the various versions of Cinema 4D (Studio, Prime, Broadcast, etc) and has announced that going forward there will be only one version of C4D.

What Version of Cinema 4D Should I Buy or Subscribe to? - C4D Logo

While choosing the right version of Cinema 4D has now become a lot easier, choosing the right subscription bundle has users scratching their heads.

So let’s dive into the new options to pick which is right for you.

Cinema 4D Purchasing Options

Cinema 4D is available as either a one-time purchase with the perpetual license or as an ongoing subscription. For those of you with an MSA plan in place, or about to expire, be sure to reach out to your local Maxon representative and they can either discount your subscription, or help you figure out an upgrade path for specific cases.

What Version of Cinema 4D Should I Buy or Subscribe to? - C4D Perpetual

Perpetual License

$3,495 one time purchase

A perpetual license allows you to buy a version of Cinema 4D forever. You will never lose access to the program.  It does require a serious upfront investment, but you won’t have to pay any service fees. That said, you won’t receive any future updated versions. So if you’ve never owned Cinema 4D, and you want a copy that will work forever, a perpetual license is your best option.

  • Pro
    • Keep forever
    • One time purchase
    • No service or maintenance fees
  • Con
    • Expensive
    • Does not include updated versions

In the past, if you purchased a copy of Cinema 4D, you would then pay an annual MSA (Maxon Service Agreement) to keep your program updated.

With the new subscription platform, Maxon has eliminated the MSA. That means if you purchase Cinema 4D R21, you will only have version R21. To update to R22+ in the future, you will need to either sign up for the subscription service or contact Maxon directly about a future upgrade path.

As of today, we have to no details on future upgrades, but Maxon is offering steep discounts for users willing to switch to subscription.

NOTE: If you are an R20 owner with an active MSA, you will receive a copy of R21. You will not be able to renew your MSA after your current one expires, so you’ll need to choose between moving to the subscription program or waiting for Maxon to release details on a future upgrade path. We highly recommend contacting your local Maxon representative as they can offer discounts and guidance for you to make the right decision.

What Version of Cinema 4D Should I Buy or Subscribe to? - C4D Subscriptions


The Cinema 4D subscription program comes with a few options. You can either choose to get Cinema 4D by itself annually or monthly, or you can get a Cinema 4D + Redshift renderer bundle for a little bit more.

Cinema 4D Only Subscription

  • $59.99/month with a 1-year plan
    • $719.88 paid at once upfront
  • $94.99/month with a 1-month plan

Cinema 4D + Redshift for C4D Subscription

  • $81.99/month with a 1-year plan
    • $983.88 paid at once upfront
  • $116.99/month with a 1-month plan

As for the good and bad of the subscription,

  • Pro
    • Updates and new versions available upon release
    • Cheaper than perpetual license
    • Cheaper than old MSA maintenance plan
  • Con
    • Pay upfront for annual subscription
    • Lose access to Cinema 4D when cancelled
    • The included version of Redshift only works with Cinema 4D
      • Cannot use this version of Redshift with other 3D programs

Choosing the right subscription is really going to come down to a few factors, primarily being if you will be using Redshift with other DCC (Houdini, Maya, 3ds Max, etc)

What Version of Cinema 4D Should I Buy or Subscribe to? - C4D Redshift Bundle

If you already own Redshift, and use it with other 3D programs, it makes sense to purchase the annual Cinema 4D only subscription. By keeping your Redshift license separate, not only can you still use Redshift anywhere, the price of a C4D subscription + regular Redshift maintenance fee is lower than the annual bundle.

Cinema 4D annual subscription with standard Redshift maintenance

$719.88 + $250 = $969.88

Cinema 4D + Redshift annual bundle


If you do not own Redshift, you still have a few things to think over. If you only plan on using Redshift with Cinema 4D, the bundle is actually the best option for new users. But, if you plan on using Redshift with other 3D programs, it doesn’t make sense to subscribe to the bundle, as the bundled Redshift renderer only works with Cinema 4D.

Cinema 4D annual subscription with new Redshift license

$719.88 + $500 = $1219.88

Cinema 4D + Redshift (only for C4d) annual bundle


As stated previously, while the bundle is the cheaper option for new users, if you intend to use Redshift with any other compatible 3D program, you need to buy a new license from Redshift. The bundled Redshift renderer only works with Cinema 4D.

Greyscalegorilla Guide to Choosing Your Cinema 4D Subscription

Now we know this is a lot of information to take in, so we wanted to simplify the process with this mind-map guide. It’s a choose-your-own adventure style choice of picking the right version of Cinema 4D for you and your team. (You can click on the image for a high-resolution PNG.)

What Version of Cinema 4D Should I Buy or Subscribe to? - Guide

Click image for high resolution.

The Best Purchasing Options for Users New to Cinema 4D

So, you are considering moving to Cinema 4D. Maybe you are new to 3D in general, or perhaps you are moving from another Digital Content Creation (DCC) app like Blender, 3ds Max, or Maya. Here’s what you need to know.

First things first, download a free Trial of Cinema 4D to make sure it’s the right fit for you. Maxon offers a 14-day free trial of C4D, and I’d also suggest signing up for our free Intro to Cinema 4D course to help you get started.

Should you fall in love with Cinema 4D like we have, then you have all the options above to choose from.

Previous Owners Upgrading to a Cinema 4D Subscription

Now let’s say that you are an existing Cinema 4D user, and you want to upgrade to the latest version of Cinema 4D. Follow along with the guide as you do have some challenges presented to you. If you’re MSA is up to date, you will get R21, but after that it’s going to be up to you to decide. I would note that it’s worth calling Maxon to determine your best course of action, because they are offering discounts.

Users moving to a subscription now are being offered deals, so definitely look into any possible discount you are eligible for.

Previous Owners Not Wanting a Cinema 4D Subscription

If you are set on avoiding the subscription entirely, your only course of action is to contact Maxon directly. The company has assured us that an upgrade path will be made available to perpetual license owners, but those details have not been made public. Do expect to pay more than the subscription to maintain a perpetual license, but as of now we don’t know anything more than that.

Want to work faster and do more in Cinema 4D?

After you’ve determined your best path forward, you can rest assured knowing that Greyscalegorilla plugins, assets, and training will all be compatible with the new Cinema 4D subscription.

So be sure to check out best-selling plugins like Light Kit Pro 3, HDRI Link, and Signal. The beloved Everyday Material Collection, HDRI packs, and asset packs are also ready to use with our simple drag-and-drop workflow.

Want to stay up to date with the latest software? Browse our free tutorials and check out Greyscalegorilla Plus for all the professional training 3D artists and motion designers need to hone their skills. Learn about the latest Cinema 4D features, updates to Redshift, X-Particles, and so much more.

  • There doesn’t seem to be a Trial Version of either R20 or R21available now.

  • I’ve been waiting for this!!!!! I had stopped using C4D for a bit now because I just didn’t have the cash to buy it upfront. Like ever…kids and life lol. But this subscription model is exactly what I needed. Just like Adobe CC.

  • That decision tree pretty much always leads to subscription. I get r21 via MSA and have about a year to see what is going on with Maxon and their new Adobe President. Not interested in a subscription – ever. Will pay more if we have to and also look at switching to another app (dcc). We keep older copies available – and have needed them. Also r21 will break all plugins – so some plugins may never be updated – not good. Maxon really doesn’t understand that complex 3D is a niche market – wishful thinking and taglines doesn’t magically make it software for “the world” (ie everyone Adobe fleeces). Maxon may be rethinking this strategy in about a year or two when all that money dries up as most companies find very few people know how to operate the software beyond an amateur level and won’t pay $750 + per year, per seat. Maxon is not like Adobe. Also I see why GG would like this – if we sold plugins. materials and training – more revenue – so I understand why you guys would like it. I would too if thats what we did. But we don’t, so we aren’t happy at all.

  • Your decision tree is incomplete. The choices do not trickle down to subscription or bundled subscription.
    There is actually a third path: you own an R21 perpetual license and simply upgrade it annually. Maxon confirmed the option but hasn’t provided a price yet.

  • that overview seems to be done by maxon:
    every way ends in subscription.
    No questions like:
    you need file-access after you stopp paying?
    you want to be independent in case there´s a better competitor?
    you want to sell your license whenever you want?
    you want a foreseeable investment plan in case of buying expensive and dependend making pligins?
    what´s the cheapest way in the long run?

  • Again disappointment from Maxon. UV and modeling tools are again so limited and old school. I already and decided to transition to Blender 2.80 (never used one of the older version and 2.80 is super easy and intuitive) and if you do not relly on mograph so much you can transition to Blender and save your money. C4D is a good tool but not as easy as they claim and very expensive for what it gives.

  • Didn’t see education licence changes. Are they keeping it open for non-commercial?

  • Great post!!

    Some concerns, Maybe you guys have an answer. 🙂

    What if I have R21 with a subscription license and R22 comes out. Does that mean that if we update only R22 will work? Or does R21 still work? We always have a period where we work with both the old and new version.

    Or do I need to pay for both R21 and R22 for that time? That would be very bad!
    Also when you need to open an old project for a client.

    We always used command line render licenses for our render slaves. There’re are gone now, is there anything to replace this? (team render is really not an option)

  • Stupid question here but : is the new c4d + redshift bundle working on mac (without nvidia card) ?


    • No. Redshift is not yet on Mac. The alleged Mac (Metal) version of Redshift wont be available until the end of 2019 at the earliest, but it may take longer.

  • Do you think that the Redshift bundle will be more integrated into the UI than purchasing Redshift separately?

  • This is for me as non professional the worst thing what could happen. If I’m a bit short on money and I’d like to stop, I loose everything. Or a least back on r20 where I can not open the new files.
    Why can they not go for licensing like insydium: you stop the maintenance, you keep the latest version.
    I love c4d and I’m more than frustrated

  • If I buy Cinema4d+Redshift annual subscription, will Redshift work with TeamRender from box? Or I will need to buy one license of Redshift per each TeamRender machine?

  • Wow. I just finished paying off a perpetual license and now I see that I could have the updated program for 3 years for the same price. Oh well. I love the subscription option just like the Adobe Creative subscription. You can get in the game for nothing compared to what it used to cost. You don’t have to go through the hassle of cracks and viruses. If you really need the program and you can’t afford the monthly cost then you are doing it wrong.

  • Hey Greyscalegorilla Family,
    Can I use the HDR kit I know cinema 4d R21

  • Are they keeping it open for non-commercial?

  • Is there a way to upgrade to the redshift annual bundle after your initial purchase of the Annual C4D only version?

  • I want to create a 3d explainer video for a website landing page. I have never used the software and would be required to learn it. Why would I not want to just purchase either MAXON STUDIO CINEMA 4D R20 or R21 sold on eBay for $10 to $20 rather than signing up for an annual subscription?

  • So you buy the very expensive perpetual license and you don’t even get updates or even the option to!? That’s insane… 

    So your only realistic option is to pay for the even more expensive subscription based model which isn’t even available on a monthly basis… I’ve just started learning Cinema 4D and am now stuck with lite and see no real route into purchasing the proper thing.

    I think if all updates were available for the perpetual licence that would change everything but at the moment buying that looks more or less pointless.

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