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Microsoft Points

I just read the Wikipedia entry on Microsoft Points. I remember hearing quite awhile ago that they'd chosen the point values so that you were always likely to have some left over that you'd want to use - I believe that referred to their music service. The Wikipedia entry makes a compelling argument that it wasn't so much about "always having points left over" (by using non-round numbers for music tracks, like 79 points) but rather so that conversion to "real-world money" is difficult. It also points out that using points saves Microsoft from having to pay more credit card fees1.

We're somewhat fortunate in the U.S., I suppose, because 800 points = 1000 pennies ($10). Most content in the Xbox Live Marketplace seems to be 400, 800, or even 1200 points, and the math is pretty simple there: $5, $10, $15. Only the occasional 150- or 120-point items can throw you off, and in both cases they're under $2.

I just recently used my first Microsoft Points to purchase the full version of Worms from the arcade. It was 800 points, so I've got 5200 remaining. I'll likely never buy themes or gamer pictures (waste of money) and will probably reserve my points for the occasional game.

What have you bought with Microsoft Points? Do you like or dislike the concept?

Footnotes

  1. Unlike Apple in iTunes, which is arguably an even bigger penalty since their items cost about $1-$2 while the average price of something from Microsoft is probably more like $8 or $9.

18 Responses to "Microsoft Points"

  1. Be very careful with MS points. The DRM restrictions are deathly. I've spent over 56,000 MS Points ($700) on digital content. All my content is currently broken due to my original console dying from the well-known red ring of death. What happens next is appalling.

    When you get a replacement machine, from either the retailer via their own warranty exchange or from Microsoft through their repair center all of your content becomes severely limited in functionality.

    Your content right now can be used online, offline, and by any profile that is on your account. Say for example your wife created her own gamertag and plays some games that you buy from the Marketplace.

    Once you're console breaks, this content no longer works in this manner. You'll no longer be able to use your content offline, period. You'll no longer be able to have your wife use her own account to play games. The only method for playing games will be using your purchasing account and you have to logged into Xbox Live to play them. In some cases, the games are broken and you'll have to re-download a license file each and every time you want to play them again.

    Their is currently no easy solution to this problem. Sure, you can call Microsoft. You can wait up to 5 months to have this problem fixed at Microsoft's end. I'm currently in month two of this process.

    I'm no longer buying anything from their online marketplace until their is a consumer friendly solution to this problem. Microsoft's DRM is so poorly implemented, it is just asking for a class action lawsuit.

    Apple iTunes allows you to play your DRM songs on up to 5 computers. Sony's PS3 allows you to license your digital games on up to 5 consoles. Both of these companies also give you the tools to activate and deactivate those computers or consoles at your leisure.

    Microsoft's solution is to lock all purchases to the purchasing console and never allow you to change licenses due to their own absurd hardware failures. They offer zero solutions for self re-licensing and force you to speak with inept customer service reps who lie about when your case will be resolved.

    I urge you to be very cautious with your MS point purchases. When your machine dies, oh, it will die, you'll experience this problem first hand.

    This issue was first documented in 2005: http://forums.xbox.com/17007361/ShowPost.aspx

    Still no solution today, after 100+ pages and 3,000 posts. I've even spoken with the president of the Xbox division on this issue. I'm still working on getting my problem resolved through their escalation department.

  2. Thank you, Jeffrey. I personally don't plan to buy anything other than the occasional game, but your tale is certainly one that others should hear.

  3. Ugh. I had no idea that the Xbox 360's DRM was so messed up. You'd think they would have fixed that situation by now, given the rate at which their hardware fails.

  4. Tim Buchheim said on November 30, 2007:

    Ugh. I had no idea that the Xbox 360's DRM was so messed up. You'd think they would have fixed that situation by now, given the rate at which their hardware fails.

    The thought occurs to me that you'd think some money-hungry lawyer would have put together a class action lawsuit to make himself rich off this by now. Some lawyer has to be aware of MS's deep pockets and this issue, no? The gamers would likely be happy just to have their "rights" restored - the lawyer could keep the lion's share of the $20M settlement (it's my understanding that lawyers usually get the bulk of the settlement in class action lawsuits).

  5. I've actually spoken with several law firms and so far no one wants to touch it. And frankly, I can't understand why. Class action lawsuits have been filed against Apple for Nano scratches of all silly things...

    I'm not asking for any cash settlement, I just want the rights back to all the content I rightfully purchased.

    And since is there not a single mention of these DRM licensing restrictions in Microsoft's Terms of Service, I don't think MS would have a leg to stand on. I expected to find buried in the bowels of their
    TOS a line that stated once your console dies your content is lost forever. That line does not exist.

    I enjoyed your post on the Xbox.com forums Erik 🙂

  6. Jeffrey said on November 30, 2007:

    I've actually spoken with several law firms and so far no one wants to touch it. And frankly, I can't understand why. Class action lawsuits have been filed against Apple for Nano scratches of all silly things…

    Indeed. Has Cory Doctorow ranted against this kind of thing yet? It seems right up his alley.

    Jeffrey said on November 30, 2007:

    I enjoyed your post on the Xbox.com forums Erik 🙂

    I was serious, too. I've never lost iTunes things before (though I did have a download get "busted" one time), but everyone I've talked to - at least ten people - has told me Apple has re-authorized all their content for download. One person had over 1,000 songs and re-downloaded each and every one of them.

    The difference between how these two situations are being handled is simply shocking.

    My post is here.

  7. I haven't had an issue with this DRM.. it's really not that bad.

    - I am always online with my xbox. (everyone should be, in any case- if you are offline and you get an achievement, the date is not recorded)
    - I only use my profile, noone else in house plays 360.

    If you meet those two criteria, then it's no problem.

  8. Ben said on December 1, 2007:

    I haven't had an issue with this DRM.. it's really not that bad.

    I think you're a bit of an odd case: one guy, always online. I don't know that you're the majority of customers nor that you can really speak for them. "Good" DRM isn't just what works for the unusual cases, but for the masses as well. (Ignoring the option for "good DRM" to be "no DRM at all.")

  9. Erm, you asked for people's opinions, so i gave mine.. I've brought up this exact topic (before i got a 360) to some of my friends, and they also didn't like it, but they didn't think it was a huge deal.

    Do you honestly think that the majority of 360 gamers have girlfriends (who are also gamers) and dialup? I'd disagree with that. I'd say the majority have DSL/Cable (ie, always online) and play alone...

  10. Ben said on December 1, 2007:

    Erm, you asked for people's opinions, so i gave mine.. I've brought up this exact topic (before i got a 360) to some of my friends, and they also didn't like it, but they didn't think it was a huge deal.

    Do you honestly think that the majority of 360 gamers have girlfriends (who are also gamers) and dialup? I'd disagree with that. I'd say the majority have DSL/Cable (ie, always online) and play alone...

    Well, let's see here. I have 4 gamers in my house. I buy all the content, $700 worth. 3 other people like some of this content. Due to DRM none of them can use it but me.

    And one of my gamers has a standard offline profile, a feature available on the 360. Sorry, but your argument holds zero water.

    What if I were to take my Xbox 360 to a neighbors house? They don't have a network hub near their tv? They don't have wifi? Hello, the machine isn't going online... broken content again.

    As for achievements offline, big deal. The date isn't recorded. They're worthless anyway, trust me. I just want my games to work as they did before. Simple.

  11. Calm down dude, just giving an opinion..

    I agree with you, It sucks and their DRM is shitty.

    I just don't think it affects the majority of gamers, from personal experience asking a couple people about it.

    I'll inquire at work to get more opinions and report back 🙂 (I work for Sierra.,..)

  12. If you do in fact work for Sierra, please let the Carcassonne team know that a fix to the corrupted expansion packs after a RRoD failure would be most helpful.

  13. Jeffrey said on December 2, 2007:

    If you do in fact work for Sierra, please let the Carcassonne team know that a fix to the corrupted expansion packs after a RRoD failure would be most helpful.

    Here is a link to this specific issue:

    http://forums.xbox.com/14792924/ShowPost.aspx

  14. Says J. Allard on Major Nelson's podcast:

    We don't talk about DRM with Xbox Live, but it's there. We solved the problem the way the customer wants. You buy PacMan Championship Edition, you go over to Kilgore's house, you plug in your MU, your rights go with you. Isn't that the way it should work? [Major Nelson: Right, when you're connected to Live, yeah.] And your kid sister wants to play it on your Xbox? Well we left a copy behind for her. But it can't be copied infinitely. There are two workable active copies at most at any time. And that works for our partners, that works for our customers, that works for us, and it works seamlessly and you never have to think about it.

  15. This DRM situation is criminal, to put it simple. I just got off the phone with Microsoft and they absolutely refuse to do ANYTHINg about my situation. My console broke, I got the Elite thinking I was upgrading, and all of my purchased content is now crippled. Ive spend over $1000 in downloadable content and to not have exactly what I paid for is a crime. Microsoft's solution is for me to purchase the content again. This is what they told me. OR I could find the old console and just use that one forever. It seems to me that people who upgrade their systems to an Elite, for example, will be extremely f*cked, not realizing that they can't take their content with them.

    I would join a class action lawsuit in a SECOND just to have Microsoft fix their flawed and criminal DRM. The irony is that Microsoft is trying to make more money, yet they will be losing it from me now since my money will no longer be spent on their content. I am seriously migrating to Playstation 3 now. I really had reservations in the first place, knowing Microsoft's questionable business practices... but this was the final straw.

    PLEASE continue to post wherever you can regarding this issue if it affects you. The more people aware, the better.

  16. :HAn. said on January 2, 2008:

    I've spend over $1000 in downloadable content and to not have exactly what I paid for is a crime.

    Technically - and legally - you willingly opted to give up some of your rights when you switched consoles. It's that simple. You agreed to those terms when you purchased the rights (you didn't purchase "content" either - you purchased specific rights to use certain content).

    Your content should still work when the original purchasing gamertag is signed in to Xbox Live (per the rights you purchased).

    :HAn. said on January 2, 2008:

    Microsoft's solution is for me to purchase the content again.

    Actually, it's my understanding that you can't do that with the original gamertag. You're only given the option to re-download, which of course won't do anything. You could re-buy from another gamertag of course.

    :HAn. said on January 2, 2008:

    This is what they told me. OR I could find the old console and just use that one forever. It seems to me that people who upgrade their systems to an Elite, for example, will be extremely f*cked, not realizing that they can't take their content with them.

    I've heard from some people that MS supposedly said something at one point that led people to believe that people who upgraded to the Elite model would be taken care of at some point, but thus far nobody I've asked has been able to provide any proof that MS said such a thing.

    The statements were supposedly made wellbefore I owned an Xbox or even considered owning one, so I can't attest to the memory of such a statement.

    MS is currently screwing over people whose consoles break and who send their consoles in to be repaired/replaced by MS by making them wait 3+ months for "license transfers." What makes you think they're going to care about satisfying customers who willingly gave up some of their rights and now simply regret their decision?

    :HAn. said on January 2, 2008:

    The irony is that Microsoft is trying to make more money, yet they will be losing it from me now since my money will no longer be spent on their content. I am seriously migrating to Playstation 3 now. I really had reservations in the first place, knowing Microsoft's questionable business practices... but this was the final straw.

    If you had "reservations" why didn't you do the research necessary and understand the rights and restrictions prior to purchase? MS isn't "losing" money on you - they made $1000 in XBL content off you already. They're just not "making" any money off you if you go cold turkey right now.

    I think MS's DRM is way too darn restrictive, but I don't think making unreasonable statements and pushing the "sensationalism" button is going to help anyone's cause, argument, or position.

  17. What it comes down to is that the Xbox 360 is a great machine with great games, the killer is that Microsoft simply doesn't seem to care about gamers...no help with country location changes, no regard for hundreds of hours of gametime & achievements, excluding certain countries, no help with already owned content, charges for a simple name changes, the ability to transfer you achievements, etc..the list goes on. It is not "sensationalism" it is bad business.

    They are aware of these issues and should fix them, simple.

  18. As of today MS has improved this issue partially.

    http://consumerist.com/tag/xbox-360/?i=5020443&t=you-can-now-transfer-licenses-for-your-xbox-360-content

    Still not perfect... Not sure if you can move it across gamertags..


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