Hello. As well as including the extra functionality that is supported by add-on plugins in the free version, the main benefit of the ACF Pro version is that it allows us to easily manage the Options section of the admin dashboard and quickly develop advanced widgets. The free version of ACF does not support options and so you will not be able to turn on any modules or configure the theme.
The theme is in continuous development and the number of features is growing. The options section is becoming more and more central to the theme for switching modules on and off, and for configuring associated settings.
The licensing of the pro version states that we cannot include the plugin as part of the theme unless the theme is a premium (paid) theme. When we switched to version 4, and the use of ACF Pro, we made the decision to keep the theme free. Maybe one day we’ll get the theme into an online store, but either way users need to fork out a little.
I wish I got 25 bucks for every GovIntranet download! As things stand, proceeds go to the makers of ACF Pro and toward further development and enhancement of the plugin, which is a core part of the theme.