On Monday Microsoft surprised consumers by eliminating its virtual currency for downloadable purchases.
Although the software giant will continue to charge people to play Xbox Live, it will drop the requirement for Microsoft Points for downloadable purchases.
For seven years, Microsoft has sold points to be used for downloadable games, Xbox Avatar items, movies, and Xbox Music on its Xbox Live network.
Spokespersons for the company said the Windows 8 platform will bring together all Microsoft platforms, from PCs and Windows phones to the still unannounced Xbox 720, eliminating the need for the points.
“Microsoft Points continue to be the currency for purchasing content for the Xbox 360 console,” a Microsoft spokesperson told The Verge. When it releases on Oct. 26, however, Windows 8 will allow users to purchase goods, even through Xbox Live, using local currency or Microsoft points.
“Current Xbox Live customers may also make a purchase using points.”
The Xbox 720, known also as Durango, will run on the Windows 8 operating system, according to Microsoft’s Brian Hall. By the time the company releases the Xbox 720, it will likely stop charging for virtual currency packs.
Critics have said Microsoft should begin establishing parity across its entire range of platforms. parity would establish Windows 8 as a successful foundation for its expanding entertainment businesses. Limiting options on the Xbox 360 and continuing to charge for services such as online play through Xbox Gold, will only disenfranchise consumers who have grown used to playing for free and paying real money on competitors’ platforms.
Nintendo abandoned its similar points currency in favor of real money when it opened its eShop, while Apple charges real money on iTunes.
Rumors began circulating in January that Microsoft would dump its points system. Then, in August, a number of Xbox Avatar appeared on Xbox Live with actual money prices rather than point prices. Microsoft claimed at the time the pricing was a mistake.
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