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Microsoft May Pull the Plug on Xbox Points

Microsoft May Pull the Plug on Xbox Points

Just two days after Amazon launched its Coins virtual payment system, Microsoft is reportedly going in the other direction. The company may bring an end to its Points system that lets Xbox Live users pay for games and other content on the Xbox console. Since Windows 8 is already using a cash-based system, the move could bring some payment unity to all Microsoft platforms.

By Enid Burns E-Commerce Times ECT News Network
05/15/13 2:53 PM PT

Microsoft may cash in its Points virtual payment system.

Microsoft will discontinue Points in favor of a cash-based system that will accept credit and debit purchases, as well as gift cards purchased at retail outlets, according to The Verge.

Microsoft Points are the virtual currency for Xbox Live. Players purchase points, which can then be used to purchase games and content. A new cash system would be similar to what's in use with Windows 8.

It is not known when this change may happen, but reports indicate it could be announced at next month's Electronic Entertainment Expo.

"We don't comment on rumors or speculation," Microsoft spokesperson Shirley Kim told the E-Commerce Times.

Rumor Recirculation

"This is a long time coming," P.J. McNealy, CEO and founder of Digital World Research told the E-Commerce times. McNealy wrote about the possibility of Points being discontinued in a January 2012 blog post.

The "It's about time" sentiment was echoed many times on Twitter.

In order to pull off the transition from Points to currency, Microsoft will have to work out a few kinks.

"They fumbled this before," said Billy Pidgeon, independent gaming industry analyst.

Currency Conundrum

At one time, points may have seemed like a good system for a company with a global audience like Microsoft. While the virtual currency was able to normalize the cost of content, it created confusion for many gamers.

"It's totally a good thing. The problem with the Points system was that it obfuscated the real dollar value," Pidgeon told the E-Commerce Times. "It's the same Points in different countries, but not the same currency level."

Microsoft will have to work out the currency conversions, he added.

"I think people will feel more comfortable with the first purchase and subsequent purchases when they know the real dollar amount when they're buying."

Making Xbox Live

The move away from Points is a way to connect the Xbox platform with other Microsoft properties.

"Highly likely," said McNealy.

Real dollar amounts will make Xbox, as well as Live, a broader and more encompassing platform. The same payment system will likely operate across all of Microsoft's properties.

"It makes sense because they're looking at Live as a platform, which they should be," said Pidgeon. This is a move "to be on the same level as iTunes, the App Store and Google Play, which also use real currency."

A new payment system will make gift cards and other credit good across all Microsoft platforms to purchase games, content, apps and other programs with one account.

"Microsoft has been moving Live away from just the console. I think they've been doing it more effectively and with greater success, moving Live to other platforms as a consumer entertainment label," he said.

The move would unify Microsoft platforms in a way the software developer has been unable to do so far.

"That would give it a good frame," said Pidgeon. "But this is something they've needed to do all along, and they knew it. If you know what something costs in real dollars, that's a good thing."

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