While I do own an Xbox 360, I almost never buy games on Xbox Live. There are several reasons for that, the most basic being that I have enough problems with people trying to jack my accounts already and I don’t need to invite more of that into my life.
But the biggest reason is Microsoft Points. Microsoft raised a lot of hopes by revealing you could buy movies and music with an actual credit card, like a human being, in Windows 8, only to turn around and crush those hopes by saying that this wouldn’t apply to games.
It’s time to reconsider, Redmond. Here are five reasons Points need to go.
Just Pay The Swipe Fees Like Everyone Else, Microsoft
If you’ve ever wondered why Microsoft instituted points, the answer is simple. Every time you buy a song on your iTunes account, Apple pays a swipe fee. Always has. But if you’re forced to buy Microsoft Points, Microsoft only has to pay one swipe fee!
Yes, a major multibillionaire corporation has decided that it makes more sense to inconvenience you to save a few nickels than it does to just eat the swipe fees, like every other multibillionaire corporation selling crap to you directly in the entire world.
There’s Always Points Left Over
One of the problems in buying points is, as any 360 owner can tell you, the “hot dogs and buns” effect. Just like hot dogs come in packages of seven and buns come in packages of eight, game prices are set by the open market, but points and their value are set by Microsoft. And Microsoft has chosen 80 points on the dollar, for reasons I’ll get into a bit later. The net result is that there’s really no way to buy just the points you need. You’ll wind up either overspending, or underspending.
True, the PlayStation Network has the “wallet”, but the system has been fairly streamlined and we’re talking about pennies at best. I have friends who always have 50 or 60 points left over from purchases.
Once You Buy The Points, There They Stay
I wouldn’t find this so objectionable, honestly, if I could just cash in my damn points. But I can’t. Once I give Microsoft twenty bucks, those twenty bucks are there forever. I can’t get them back. All I can do is spend them on a game. True, this is what I want to do, but the fact that this arbitrary decision has been made and that there is no way to do this.
The Underlying Psychology Is Fairly Offensive
One of the ideas behind fiat currencies like this is that you can make people think that they’re spending less money than they actually are.
Come on, Microsoft. You really think your audience isn’t capable of some basic math?
They Make Xbox Live Look More Archaic Than It Already Is
My instinctive response to a demand that I pay to access Xbox Live for all the goodies is and always has been “No.” It’s what kept me from buying the original Xbox and frankly what kept me from buying a 360 until I was forced to by work. I’m already paying $50 a month for Internet, why the hell would I give Microsoft any money to access a glorified website? I know Silver is “free”, but the attempts to upsell are constant.
This is just underlined by PlayStation Network, which is free, uses a credit card, and allows full multiplayer features. So basically my choice is get an efficient service with a simple payment method for free, or pay for access to the exact same features and have to buy a fiat currency on top of that.
Gee, how appealling.