Several years ago, I was dazzled by the WPMUDEV site’s optimistic claims and expansive offerings, but couldn’t afford to bite. About two years ago, APP SUMO had an unbelievably good deal on a one-year Gold membership. Later, I signed on for another year. Now, it’s time to decide whether to bail or keep a subscription that I haven’t used nearly as much as I had hoped. Nor am I installing WP MultiSite these days unless there’s a compelling reason to do so. The frosting on the cake is that recently, WPMUDEV increased its prices from ridiculous ($35/month or $419/year) to ludicrous ($99/month, no annual memberships).

Dark Helmet: Yes, we’re gonna have to go right to ludicrous speed.

Barf: What the hell was that?
Lonestar: Spaceball 1.
Barf: They’ve gone to plaid!
—Spaceballs

The new pricing structure seems doomed to failure. For freelancers like me, it’s out of reach. For clients, the availability of the developer’s API key via the security hole of the WPMUDEV Dashboard and Updater will be more tempting.

Existing members are “grandfathered” as long as they pay $420 a year to continue membership. Nevertheless, when Gold licensees opt out, as they might after a few years, clients will land between a rock and a hard place. I’m sure they won’t pay $99 a month for the privilege of updating a few plugins. How many new developers will commit to $1200 a year? A few might think they can earn a free life membership, but the fine print about that indicates that it’s almost impossible to achieve.

The logic behind the pricing structure change is totally mystifying or just missing. Seems like a lose-lose for everyone.

I have tried maybe a dozen plugins, only to uninstall after a time and use something else. They worked alright, but with plain ‘ol WordPress sans MultiSite or BuddyPress, there are alternatives for doing a particular task. The themes have been a different story; they seem dated and none are responsive, so I have none in current use. In spite of that, it’s really hard to give up on something I wanted to love, with so much centralized potential. The forums are pretty good and the support is sometimes excellent, sometimes off-target, but it seems better than what I read in negative reviews.

The most recent plugins I tried were Backup and Ultimate Facebook. Both were overly complex for my needs, but worked reasonably well. MarketPress was promising but lacked commonly-used options, some of which have now been added. I could have used the Membership plugin a couple of months ago, but it lacked a specific feature needed by a client. The Newsletter plugin is rather nice, but the templates need updating. Overall, it was the Dashboard/Updater, the availability of less expensive alternatives, and the never-ending commitment that kept me from using WPMUDEV for clients or for my own projects.

After reading a lot of reviews about what people like and dislike about the service, I’ve finally decided to stop waffling and move on. $420 is a big hammer looking for a nail, unsustainable for people who actually keep their plugins updated. $1200 is simply impossible. If WPMUDEV’s goal is to clean out the user database and move to enterprise clients or more knowledgeable developers, the strategy might work, but smaller design shops and freelance developers will have a hard time justifying the cost for value. As of today, there’s no going back. I finally canceled my subscription and disabled affiliate links.