According to a report over on Inside Mobile Apps, Microsoft is planning to phase out their MS Points currency system by the end of 2012. The rumoured discontinuation of the virtual currency would affect Xbox Live, Windows Phone and the Zune Marketplace.
Apparently, Microsoft intends to switch payment options onto real-world currency, with all purchases being linked to currencies depending on the region setting of the profile making the purchases. In other words: by 2013 we might be looking at Xbox Live Arcade Games being priced in South African Rands instead of MS Point denominations.
Many would welcome this change, as MS Points do not represent the same value the world over. Hell, different territories can only buy them in certain denominations so there’s no standard at all. On top of this, we’re getting shafted in South Africa: 2100 MS Points cost us about R350 and up, but in the UK they cost £16.99 which is about R210 based off current exchange rates. So yes, MS Points suck for some.
The reason for Microsoft’s rumoured change is so that they can be more in line with their competitors; Sony has been charging real-world currency on the PSN for ages, and Apple’s App Store works off region specific currencies as well.
This could present a problem for SA gamers using overseas Xbox Live accounts; many people set up UK and USA accounts in order to access the Xbox Live Marketplace before South Africa got official Xbox Live. Even though we’ve had Xbox Live in South Africa for well over a year, our Marketplace is still nowhere near as extensive as its UK and USA counterparts. If Microsoft chooses to drop the MS Points system, then hopefully they’ll install a voucher system similar to what iTunes and the PSN utilise. Without vouchers in foreign currencies, local Xbox 360 gamers with overseas Xbox Live accounts are going to be left without a means to fund their online transactions, seeing as how it’s unlikely local credit cards will be able to be tied to a foreign Xbox Live account.
For now, file this under “R” for Rumour – a Microsoft spokesperson refused to comment on the rumour citing the usual “we do not comment on rumours or speculation” line.