I don't think OpenVPN AS is taking advantage of covid as much as the expectations of VPN and VPN support has changed a great deal over the last year.
There has been a higher number of people working from home and expecting VPN to be available 24x7. It had previously been common for VPN only to be used during an emergency for off-site access. Now VPN servers are more commonly used for day to day use by several customers.
As to using WireGuard as a replacement for OpenVPN AS, those currently are very different products. The type of functionality that OpenVPN provides is supposed to eventually be provided by the WG-Dynamic project. The readme for that project still says "Work-in-progress; nothing to see here yet."
It has also been pointed out that OpenVPN community release provides the "same features." If you are comfortable with configuring OpenVPN and working with the EasyRSA scripts without a web interfaces to them, then it does provide similar functionality.
The key items OpenVPN community does not provide but OpenVPN AS does is:
* A web interface for administration and deployment of VPN configuration files
* Official support
One of the justifications for the price increase is explained here:
Under "Pricing" and "How does your pricing compare to competitors?" they explain the pricing of five other major VPN competitors that are much more expensive. It isn't a completely fair comparison because I think they are also including hardware warranty for the competitors in the cost. OpenVPN AS does not provide the hardware and any warranty for the hardware needs to be paid in addition to OpenVPN AS licensing.
The big sticking point for me right now is not the cost but actually getting the key feature of included technical support. It may be possible the increase in price means they are hiring more support staff to improve support. However, the cost increase is already being paid for and my personal experience has been the current technical support is lethargic. It might be several of the other five competitors OpenVPN AS compares itself to also are having problems keeping up with technical support but I have a hard time believe that *ALL* five are as unresponsive. It seem to me that it is therefore dangerous for OpenVPN AS to suggest the pricing of competitors because it implies OpenVPN AS supplies the same thing for cheaper. However, in the case of how technical support functions, I am not sure the same thing is always being provided.
The other sticking point for me is areas OpenVPN AS could use some improvement. Since it is close source, only OpenVPN AS themselves can choose if those improvements can be made. It would be nice if the community could modify code related to the web portal part.
So, while I agree with the need for the price increase, I understand the new price is not for everyone. Combine that with the other pain points for OpenVPN AS, I think this price change may be a good reason for the community to start their own open source web interface. While I expect OpenVPN AS to always be the primary way to get an officially supported web interface, for those that need something in-between OpenVPN community and OpenVPN AS then an open source web interface may fit the gap. While such a gap has probably existed for a while, the price increase may have increased the gap of people that OpenVPN AS does not work for.
If anyone is aware of such an open source web interface project for OpenVPN or are interested in starting one, please let me know.