If you've read any of my posts regarding Manga Studio 5 or Clip Studio Paint, you'll know that they are the same program developed in Japan by Celsys and marketed in English by Smith Micro.
Anyone who has tried to purchase Manga Studio on the Smith Micro website recently will have noticed that trial versions are no longer available and that it's only possible to order physical copies of the software.
This is obviously an issue for Surface Pro or other Windows tablet users who don't have ready access to a physical drive.
Earlier this week, in response to complaints from several users, the @MangaStudio account tweeted the following:
Last night, we learned that Celsys has put up an English language site where you can download English language trials in anticipation of a September 10 release of a downloadable only version. http://www.clipstudio.net./en. The site states that Smith Micro will continue to market the physical version.
Until now it's been possible to purchase the Japanese version and install a community-made translation. This new download appears to include the same translation created by Smith Micro. But neither a Japanese nor Manga Studio serial number will activate it.
I've reached out to Celsys support to determine whether Japanese serial numbers will be transferable to the English version.
I've also asked Smith Micro for comment. Currently, product updates are available for download. Will future updates also be available digitally? Can registered users be assured that Manga Studio will be updated going forward? Will translations of future versions be forked? (See update below).
Clip Studio 1.2.7 introduces major UI improvements that make it vastly easier to use on the Surface Pro. Could it be that Celsys is attempting to keep the Windows 8 tablet market to itself?
Lots of questions surrounding a product that, anecdotally at least, appears to be a major success and one of the primary justifications for owning a Windows tablet. Stay tuned for updates.
UPDATE: I requested clarification on the situation from Smith Micro and received the following response from Manga Studio Product Manager Fahim Niaz:
We, at Smith Micro, have been promoting and selling Manga Studio for many years now. I personally have been with the product since we localized it in 2005. In the last few years, we’ve helped cultivate the marketplace for Manga Studio. We brought attention to the product and reached out to manga, comic and digital artists. Recently, we were requested by Celsys to discontinue selling the digital version of Manga Studio 5 and 5 EX, so that Celsys can sell the digital version of Clip Studio Pro and EX. These are essentially the same applications except that they are branded differently. Smith Micro will continue to sell the physical (packaged) version of Manga Studio 5 and 5 EX. We will continue providing updates of the product and will provide consistent technical support for the product. So please rest assured we will be here to serve you.
I would also like to let you know that we are currently negotiating with Celsys to be able to re-distribute the digital version of Manga Studio 5 and 5 EX, as well Clip Studio Pro and EX.
In the meantime, if you’d like to support us in this endeavor, feel free to send a message to Celsys and let them know that you’d like Smith Micro to continue selling the digital versions of Manga Studio 5 and 5 EX.
Naiz further assured me that translations will remain unified and that Smith Micro is reviewing its pricing in light of Celsys' slightly lower price points.
So what do you think? The situation is definitely unfortunate and will be a source of confusion to new users. But would you prefer to support the original developers or the distributor that has spent 8 years building the program's western user base? As a bleeding edge kind of guy, I want product updates as soon as they're available, but as someone who doesn't understand one letter of the Japanese alphabet, I worry about Celsys' ability to effectively service English speaking users.
UPDATE 2: Fascinating exchange between a registered user of Clip Studio Paint Japanese edition who was hoping to transfer his serial to the English version. Summary: it isn't pretty. http://sai.detstwo.com/forum/index.php?topic=2001.msg8627#msg8627