Microsoft Points are dead! Or, they're dying. At least according to InsideMobileApps. Dead, dying, being taken to a farm, whatever - but man do I hope it's true.
Citing a “source with knowledge of the company's decision”, InsideMobileApps says Microsoft is planning to ditch the Points system on Windows Phone (where it's only used for in-app purchases, oddly), Zune Marketplace, and Xbox Live by the end of the year. Of course, given that it's January, “by the end of the year” is about as precise as saying “before the end of time” - but in the end, what matters is Points going away.
For anyone who's somehow managed to avoid Microsoft's silly-ass points system, here's the idea: instead of buying content with, you know, money, you buy content with Microsoft Points. Points… which you buy with money.
Imagine you've gone to the store, and you want to buy 2 pineapples. You take them to the counter, and the guy at the register says “Great! That'll be 7 bloo-blops.”
“What? I don't have any bloo-blops. I only have dollars. Can I just give you dollars?”
“No. You have to give me bloo-blops. Fortunately, I have this pack of 10 bloo-blops right here.”
“..But I thought you said I only needed 7 bloo-blops?”
“You do. But I only sell them in packs of 10. Don't worry! You'll have 3 bloo-blops left over to buy anything you want!”
“Oh, okay. What can I buy with 3 bloo-blops?”
Now, there's some logic behind the point system - at least for Microsoft. It lets developers set one “price” (in points) globally - if something is 400 points in the US, it's 400 points in Japan (though what 400 points works out to obviously varies by country.) But it also totally works out in Microsoft's favor: the dollars-to-points ratio (80 points per $1) makes things seem a bit cheaper than they actually are, and that you always seem to have points left over after each purchase (but never enough to buy anything else) means pretty much everyone with an Xbox is constantly floating Microsoft a few pennies. (It also lets Microsoft cut down on credit card fees, which isn't a bad thing.)
With all that said, it's got one other major effect: making me not buy things. Of the many dozens of games I've gone to grab, the movies I've wanted to rent, and the stupid hats I would've bought for my avatar, I've ended up buying two - all because I didn't want to deal with adding more silly
bloo-blops Points. I know I'm not the only one.