Well, this certainly wasn't expected, and I double checked the calendar, it's no longer April 1st...
Introducing Corona SDK Starter
Okay, so here’s where it gets really exciting. From very early on, we have focused on democratizing app development. We felt (and still do) that anyone could create the next great app with Corona. Since then, Corona has been embraced by indies and your apps have hit the top of the charts.
Indies are a key part of our community, so today, we are taking that vision a step further. We are announcing Corona SDK Starter – a completely FREE version of Corona that lets you publish to all the platforms we support without paying us a single cent.
With Corona SDK Starter and the Starter tier of Corona Cloud, you can publish amazing, connected apps faster and more affordably (free!) than ever before. We are the only platform that lets developers do this. A lot of other products have hidden fees or force some sort of watermark/splash screen. There is no such restriction with Starter. That’s the difference between “fake free” and a true free option.
So, what's the catch?
If you want to access certain specific features like in-app purchase and analytics, you’ll need to subscribe to a paid plan. You can still build with those features on your own device, but you can’t publish apps to the store if they use those premium features. Daily builds are also only available to paying subscribers.
Not really much of a catch in the end, at least so far as existing Corona goes.
There is however also a "coming soon" Corona, that will be available in the Pro version:
As I talked about last week, our bleeding-edge OpenGL-ES 2.0/shader-based graphics engine is in the works. You are going to be blown away with what you can do. I’ll talk about that more later but I did want to give you a teaser.
If you watch this week’s CoronaGeek episode, you’ll be able to see 5,000 fish running at 60 fps! It may be hard to tell from the video, but this is what I showed to a lucky few at GDC. I recommend watching the whole show, but if you’re pressed for time, you can skip to roughly the 35:00 mark.
Second, there’s Project Gluon, a.k.a plugins. We’ve done a ton of plumbing work so that you’ll be able to do integrate 3rd party services and functionality into your app, and do so painlessly from the comfort of the Corona Simulator.
Now there’s good news and bad news here. There are a lot of moving parts, so plugins didn’t quite make it to the public release — and yes, I’m disappointed too.
But the good news is that plugins are coming very soon! We’re getting ready to seed this to beta testers this month. We are actively building a library of plugins that will be hosted on our servers. We’re working with folks like Amazon to get you more monetization options. We are acutely aware that this is a big issue for a lot of you.
Lastly (for now), we have found a way for you to access certain Java and Objective-C APIs from Lua! On the Android side, we already have the foundation there thanks to Enterprise, and we’re looking at how we can accelerate bringing those Enterprise innovations down to Pro developers. In parallel, we also have a proof-of-concept on the iOS side, so I’ll have more news once we’re past the research phase.
The pro version is going to have a 599$ a year price tag, but existing customers will be able to subscribe for 349$.
So, nutshell version is… the product we know today as Corona is now available for free, minus some web services. Their is a new more powerful version coming soon, at it will be a paid only version with a price increase.
So basically, if you haven't used Corona, it's great news. If you are an existing subscriber, not so much.
You can read the entire release here.