Microsoft Points to be retired, replaced with real money

One of the more infuriating elements for users of Microsoft services is the company’s insistence on using a unified virtual currency system across patches of its digital empire – Microsoft Points. Many purchases on the Xbox LIVE and Zune Marketplace stores can only be paid for with MS Points, but it’s now been revealed that the company is preparing to abandon its digital currency, in favour of embracing purchases made with real world currencies.

The transition is set to be completed by the end of 2012, according to Inside Mobile Apps, citing an unnamed but well-placed source. By year’s end, purchases across all Microsoft stores will be paid for using money, in the currency set within the user’s account. Any customers that have not spent their full balance of Microsoft Points by then will reportedly have their balance converted into their local currency.

Microsoft has apparently already begun to reach out to developers across its various platforms, to ensure that they’re prepared for the switch. Currently, full Xbox LIVE games are sold in currency, but downloadable content is paid for with Points. On Windows Phone, games in the Marketplace are also paid for with money, but in-app purchases can be made with Points.

The lack of consistency across Microsoft properties will no doubt have influenced the decision to unify all payment around a cash-based payment system, especially given that consumers are demonstrably comfortable with this arrangement, given the prevalence of cash payments on rival stores such as the Android Market and iTunes App Store.

The new arrangement will also negate the need to inflict Points on areas that haven’t yet been touched by them – can you imagine how confusing it would be if Skype credit and features had to be paid for with Points?  

Microsoft Points probably won’t be missed by many – but if you think you’ll have a tough time going on without them, at least you’ve got plenty of time to say goodbye.  

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52 Comments

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I wonder what they are gonna give me for the 63 points in my account. I still don't even know how I wound up with an uneven number of points. I swear I never bought anything that didn't end in a 0 or a 5.

So they drop the currently only - theoretical - alternative to credit cards in the WP7 market. Nice move Microsoft, just don't care that in Europe credit cards are way less common than in the US…

MFH said,
So they drop the currently only - theoretical - alternative to credit cards in the WP7 market. Nice move Microsoft, just don't care that in Europe credit cards are way less common than in the US…

I have my debit card, even though I have a CC, connected to my Zune account so a CC isn't needed, you need to check the payment options again. You can't buy content on, note I said ON not FOR, a Windows Phone with points anyway.

neo158 said,

I have my debit card, even though I have a CC, connected to my Zune account so a CC isn't needed, you need to check the payment options again.

To this point I've seen:
+) carrier billing - dependend on carrier, so not really a widely usable option
+) points - but not in the marketplace
+) credit card - already mentioned it, not that common in Europe…
I even looked through the german version of http://answers.microsoft.com => no information on alternatives to these…

neo158 said,

You can't buy content on, note I said ON not FOR, a Windows Phone with points anyway.

Which right from the start was a massive fail as they "claimed" to have this super integrated ecosystem…

Never really cared for Microsoft points, thought it was very... stupid

In all honesty, every time i buy MS points, the product is almost always a little less than however much points a got, leaving me with around 200-400 ms points which is basically useless with the things you can buy.

auziez said,
Never really cared for Microsoft points, thought it was very... stupid

In all honesty, every time i buy MS points, the product is almost always a little less than however much points a got, leaving me with around 200-400 ms points which is basically useless with the things you can buy.

Exactly the point. Then they have $1-2 from almost everyone who has bought DLC sitting in Microsoft's bank account. If they use those points on useless DLC like avatar accessories then even better because those cost nothing!

mrp04 said,
Exactly the point. Then they have $1-2 from almost everyone who has bought DLC sitting in Microsoft's bank account. If they use those points on useless DLC like avatar accessories then even better because those cost nothing!

So the wages of the people who create those assets are nothing?
We're not talking Foxconn workers here, these people get paid very well for what they do.

downhillrider said,
This sounds like a trap to get my CC# on file. That will never happen.

You can still buy cards with actual currency like most online store giftcards.

downhillrider said,
This sounds like a trap to get my CC# on file. That will never happen.

billing.microsoft.com is one of the most secure places to have your credit card information stored online.

dotf said,

billing.microsoft.com is one of the most secure places to have your credit card information stored online.

Doesn't look like it lately imo.

Biggest advantage of Microsoft points is that you do not have to pay for taxes on every purchase; just once when you purchase a set of points. I'll surely will miss that.

RommelS said,
Biggest advantage of Microsoft points is that you do not have to pay for taxes on every purchase; just once when you purchase a set of points. I'll surely will miss that.

You need to re-math.

800 points cost $10 + tax which is a percentage. Lets say 8%. $10 points will cost you $10.80 with tax.
Lets say you bought 2 400 point items. with that money. Now 400 point items cost $5+tax each, or $5.40. Two $5.40 items cost $10.80. Same thing.

mrp04 said,

You need to re-math.

800 points cost $10 + tax which is a percentage. Lets say 8%. $10 points will cost you $10.80 with tax.
Lets say you bought 2 400 point items. with that money. Now 400 point items cost $5+tax each, or $5.40. Two $5.40 items cost $10.80. Same thing.

I think he means in the sense, tax on the purchase of the card, then on the purchase of the Xbox Live item, depending on the regional tax laws, that very well may happen.

This is probably a bad move on Microsoft's part, if people starts putting real world value on DLC and Arcade games, they're more likely to think twice about buying $11 DLC than 800MS points, they'll lose a lot of sales just by removing the confusion. I know I'd think twice, and I know the actual value of the points.

I fail to see why this is a problem at all. Using Skype is a bad example, they could just, you know, make it so you can't pay with MS Points.

JaredFrost said,
This is probably a bad move on Microsoft's part, if people starts putting real world value on DLC and Arcade games, they're more likely to think twice about buying $11 DLC than 800MS points, they'll lose a lot of sales just by removing the confusion. I know I'd think twice, and I know the actual value of the points.

I fail to see why this is a problem at all. Using Skype is a bad example, they could just, you know, make it so you can't pay with MS Points.

If you know the actual value of the points why does this affect you?
Who this affects most will be kids. My cousins for example: they get some points to buy something. Since they're sold in different denominations than most items cost, they'll end up with 100 or 200 points left. They say "what else am I going to do with these points" and buy stupid pointless crap like avatar accessories.

It doesn't affect me a whole lot since I've only ever bought DLC like 3-4 times in the whole time the 360 has been out, and none in the last 3 years.

mrp04 said,

If you know the actual value of the points why does this affect you?
Who this affects most will be kids. My cousins for example: they get some points to buy something. Since they're sold in different denominations than most items cost, they'll end up with 100 or 200 points left. They say "what else am I going to do with these points" and buy stupid pointless crap like avatar accessories.

It doesn't affect me a whole lot since I've only ever bought DLC like 3-4 times in the whole time the 360 has been out, and none in the last 3 years.

How does it affect me? crazy mental trickery, that's how, Microsoft knows this, it's part of why they used Points in the first place.

And the smart person wouldn't go, OMG! I have 100-200MS points, I NEED TO SPEND THIS NOW!! They would wait till they see something they want, then if they didn't have enough points, they'd get more.

This change would affect me, and Microsoft more, I purchase things all the time on XBL, assigning an actual real world value would in some way make me talk myself out of some purchases.

JaredFrost said,

How does it affect me? crazy mental trickery, that's how, Microsoft knows this, it's part of why they used Points in the first place.

And the smart person wouldn't go, OMG! I have 100-200MS points, I NEED TO SPEND THIS NOW!! They would wait till they see something they want, then if they didn't have enough points, they'd get more.

This change would affect me, and Microsoft more, I purchase things all the time on XBL, assigning an actual real world value would in some way make me talk myself out of some purchases.

At last, they're finally ditching MS Points. Maybe it'll finally show all the CoD players just how worthless the DLC really is!!

The two different payment systems are confusing especially for Windows Phone, using points to buy music, movies and apps through the Zune software and real world currency on the phone.

Edited by neo158, Jan 24 2012, 11:12am :

I was using bing bar to get free points. Hows this going to work now? I used my points on Xbox Zune to watch "PPV" movies... for fwee!

dagamer34 said,
Thank GOD. This had to happen when Windows 8 came out. People will NOT stand points.

I bet you 5000 Microsoft points that's why they are stopping them!

I thought that points was a good idea, but I guess it is a problem for Microsoft as poorer countries have to pay full price which leads to less sales.

As long as my points get converted to USD not AUD and I can keep my US account (because generally things are cheaper this way) then I will be happy

Scorpus said,
As long as my points get converted to USD not AUD and I can keep my US account (because generally things are cheaper this way) then I will be happy

I thought US accounts with AU CC's got discontinued awhile back?

And unify the cost of things too - the yen is stronger than ever against the dollar, yet we still get robbed in Japan. Not that I can be bothered to buy much these days.

Thank god, Hopefully this happens ASAP

I don't want to have to wait until the end of 2012 to be able to buy things from Zune

Brando212 said,
I never really understood why MS went with that "Points" system to begin with, no one liked it from the beginning

1 Product would cost 800 points on XBL
However 800 points would cost X based on your region.

brent3000 said,

1 Product would cost 800 points on XBL
However 800 points would cost X based on your region.

Thus they can just charge X for said product in your region, which is what they're doing right now.
The reason they did it is because you can not buy points in the same amount as things cost. I believe you bought points in multiples of 600, but most "good" items cost 400 and 800 points.

Brando212 said,
I never really understood why MS went with that "Points" system to begin with, no one liked it from the beginning

When Microsoft put out the Xbox360 they thought their target demographic wouldn't have access to instant cash spending.

Now that these kids are young adults with credit cards of their own, both parties want a more convenient payment system.

Personally, I like the points. You can buy them on sale, and then combine that with a MS sale for a double discount.

Fezmid said,
Personally, I like the points. You can buy them on sale, and then combine that with a MS sale for a double discount.

I hate points because Microsoft basically gets to borrow your money into their bank account until you somehow find a way to spend all of your points. Plus, the conversion rates are stupid. I make dollars at my job, not Microsoft points!

Fezmid said,
Personally, I like the points. You can buy them on sale, and then combine that with a MS sale for a double discount.

You can still get discount from other prepaid cards that feature real money, like PSN and iTunes. Your discounts won't go away.

rahvii said,

You can still get discount from other prepaid cards that feature real money, like PSN and iTunes. Your discounts won't go away.

PSN points are never on sale, and when there is a sale on accessories, PSN cards are NEVER included, and when you ask why, they state, because it's real money, but on the other hand, MS Point cards are always on sale, and never excluded in accessory sales. I hope this isn't true, because I like getting cheap MS Points, last sale I got them at was 50% off, that would never happen if it were listed as real money.

JaredFrost said,

PSN points are never on sale, and when there is a sale on accessories, PSN cards are NEVER included, and when you ask why, they state, because it's real money, but on the other hand, MS Point cards are always on sale, and never excluded in accessory sales. I hope this isn't true, because I like getting cheap MS Points, last sale I got them at was 50% off, that would never happen if it were listed as real money.


I do remember seeing some sales on PSN cards at Black Friday, also iTunes card are frequently on sale. And even if PSN are rarely on sale, that doesn't mean that that will be the case for MS ones.

rahvii said,

I do remember seeing some sales on PSN cards at Black Friday, also iTunes card are frequently on sale. And even if PSN are rarely on sale, that doesn't mean that that will be the case for MS ones.

It does mean that, Sales are up to the retailer, not Microsoft, they'll use the same excuse as the PSN cards.

Black Friday sales are rare and crappy in Canada. Even when Rogers was going out of business here, the PSN cards weren't on sale, yet MS point cards were 75% off.

joep1984 said,
Can we do the amounts we want, or will we be stuck going the $10, $20, or $50 route like Nintendo Wii points?

i see what you mean. they SHOULD just let you buy your items as you want them and they charge you accordingly.

so say something is $6, they charge you $6. if it's $10.50, they charge you $10.50. instead of buying the blocks and might never end up using them like the stuff you explained above.

justmike said,
And how does this work without a credit card tied to the account?

It would probably work the same way that iTunes gift cards would. There would be a place the user could type the card number and a PIN, and it would credit that account whatever amount was attached to the card.