It seems very possible that by the end of 2012 you will be buying games on Xbox Live using real currency instead of Microsoft’s crazy, proprietary points systems. According to sources, a handful of mobile developers are being told about the switch and instructed to plan game updates accordingly.
This rumor comes courtesy of Inside Mobile Apps who claim that a source with knowledge of the company’s decision let them in on the change. Over the course of 2012 Microsoft will remove their current virtual currency system, Microsoft Points, in favor of real money for transactions. Windows phone, Zune marketplace, and Xbox Live purchases will all be migrated to the new format.
The issue with Microsoft points was the quantized amount of points you could purchase. The lowest amount of points available to consumers was 400, amounting to approximately $5. This means if someone was $1 short (80 points) on an Xbox Live item, they would have to purchase $5 worth of points instead of just paying the $1. Sony solved this problem right from the beginning on the PlayStation Network by just charging real money for purchases instead of forcing consumers to purchase special currency.
The source told Inside Mobile Apps that some mobile developers are already being told to plan their upcoming apps and downloadable content to be in line with the change. Customers with existing points will be automatically converted over to a balance of currency appropriate for their region.
Microsoft has already begun to introduce cash purchases on Xbox Live, mostly for full versions of Xbox 360 games, so this change totally makes sense. I would be thrilled to buy Xbox Live Arcade games with actual currency instead of the crazy middle-man points.