If Microsoft is considering dropping points, shouldn't you?

If Microsoft is considering dropping points, shouldn't you?

Summary: So many game mechanics rely on proprietary points systems, especially gamification plays that involve collecting or loyalty card programs. Is the humble 'point' a needless level of abstraction?

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Microsoft points rumored to be no more.

File this under 'unsubstantiated rumors,' but a report circulating widely this week claims that Microsoft is sunsetting its Microsoft Points system, currently used for some (but not all) Xbox Live purchases.

Inside Mobile Apps says: "Microsoft’s proprietary virtual currency system, Microsoft Points, will be phased out by the end of the year, according to a source with knowledge of the company’s decision. The change will affect developers for Windows Phone, the Zune marketplace and Xbox Live."

That's the only source for the story right now, and Microsoft has refused to comment, so take that report with a grain of salt -- but it brings up an interesting issue. So many game mechanics rely on proprietary points systems, especially gamification plays that involve collecting or loyalty card programs. Is the humble 'point' a needless level of abstraction?

For those who do not consider themselves 'gamers,' which is really the target audience for a good mainstream gamification project, the very idea of collecting points may seem a little too Xbox-like (or insert your own video game reference here). Perhaps by replacing these arbitrary points with something like real-world rewards -- product discounts, for example -- we can form a stronger bond between the user, the game mechanics, and the goods or services being promoted.

Of course, Microsoft could always keep the points system for purchases, which allows the company to charge the same amount (800 points, for example) in different regions. And, of course, there's little chance of dropping the Xbox Live Gamerscore, which tracks achievements across different games for a persistent running tally of your in-game skills. But the question should be asked: Is the arbitrary 'point' a concept whose time has come?

Topics: Mobility, Hardware, Microsoft

Libe Goad

About Libe Goad

Texas native Libe Goad resides in New York City and has spent the past decade covering technology and video games for publications including Blender, PC Magazine, Bust, Seventeen and Sync.

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5 comments
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  • I don't think it had anything to do with gamification

    It was a way of showing all purchases in one currency.
    happyharry_z
    • RE: If Microsoft is considering dropping points, shouldn't you?

      @happyharry_z I agree, it seems author is a little confused regarding what gamification is all about
      sachendra
  • Gamification - currencyification

    One of the benefits to using a currency is that you can show the current price in the local currency on the xbox based on xbox locale.
    _JimB_
  • RE: If Microsoft is considering dropping points, shouldn't you?

    Gah, stupid comments, deleting my stuff.

    Anyways, if they get rid of points, it's because they're annoying. You have to buy a minimum of 800 points (10 dollars or so). If I want buy a 5 dollar game, I'm committed to buying 10 dollars worth of xbox live stuff.
    Aerowind
  • I don't care if they do, but before then...

    Can I have some free ones? Many thanks! ( ;

    P.S. I personally like the point systems as I can find myself discounts and the like instead of paying full price for everything. It seems easier to get the discounts if there's a 'currency exchange' of sorts.

    In the mean time, I'll keep buying, but I probably will be a little more reluctant to stockpile them until these rumors are quashed...
    jbwillis01