Microsoft is abandoning its traditional e-commerce system for its popular online gaming and entertainment platform Xbox Live Arcade in time for the next schedule Xbox 360 dashboard update, the company revealed Friday.
After irritating gamers for nearly a decade with its requirement to buy digital goods with "Microsoft Points" rather than real-world currency, Microsoft's Xbox Live Arcade (XBLA) is laying its points system to rest both for the Xbox 360 and the upcoming Xbox One console.
Previously, gamers wanting to purchase anything on XBLA had to first purchase a batch of Microsoft points — say, 1,600 points for $19.99 — with which they could then actually buy a game. This system invariably led to an imperfect overlap between the amount of points needed to buy something and the amount sitting around in a given XBLA account afterwards, leading to complaints that the service was generally inefficient and unnecessarily costly.
Larry Hryb, Xbox Live's director of programming who's better known by his online moniker "Major Nelson," announced the shift on Friday in a post on his blog about the upcoming open beta testing period scheduled for the next Xbox 360 dashboard update.
"It [the 2013 Xbox Live Update for Xbox 360 Public Beta] will include updates to improve overall performance and the ability to conduct transactions with local currency, as Microsoft Points will be retired later this year," Hryb wrote.
Hryb didn't say when the final update would be released to the general gaming public. Microsoft first announced that it was retiring its points system for XBLA e-commerce during its press conference at the Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3) in Los Angeles.
Hryb also didn't clarify how, exactly, Microsoft is planning to deal with any leftover Microsoft points after the e-commerce solution is officially abandoned for Xbox Live. We've reached to Microsoft for comment and will update this story as more information becomes available.
Yannick LeJacq is a contributing writer for NBC News who has also covered technology and games for Kill Screen, The Wall Street Journal and The Atlantic. You can follow him on Twitter at @YannickLeJacq and reach him by email at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
First published July 5 2013, 8:50 AM