@jonathonracz OK, so you’re purely talking from a customers perspective. Here is a developers perspective with the experience of using the eLicenser system for the past nine (9) years:
Nexus 1 did have a license file and some other trickery when it was released in 2006. Sales were very good and we were quite happy. About three months after release it was cracked and sales went down roughly 50%.
Almost two years later (August 2008) we released Nexus 2, this time with the eLicenser copy-protection (dongle, not the “soft”-eLicenser system) and our sales were again very good and steadily increasing. In October 2009 a cracker group found a weakness in the eLicenser system and exploited it, essentially cracking all plugins using it in one fell swoop. Our sales dropped to 1/3 (not by one third, no to one third of before). Overnight. No exaggeration, it was devastating. According to our experience (not wishful thinking) 2/3 of all “customers” would rather steal our software than pay for it.
About 3-4 weeks later, Steinberg patched the weakness and released an updated SDK, which restored the full protection. Our sales very slowly recovered, but since there was a “fresh” crack available, it was really slow going. Now, that we almost put 8 years between the crack and the latest version (crack was 2.2.0, current version is 2.7.4) our sales are good again, but only because the crack is so outdated and only comes in 32-bit and only for Windows.
You simply can’t compete with “free”. As soon as there is a crack out, 2/3 of your potential customers won’t give a rats ass if you and your company survives or not. They just want new toys.
We would love to ditch the dongle, as it creates a lot of extra work (support, shipping, and some extra code) for no real “benefit” (to the customer). But what are we supposed to do?
Would you go to work everyday, if your boss tells you that you will now make only 1/3 of what you made yesterday for the foreseeable future, because of “reasons”?