The confirmation that Microsoft will transition from having consumers pay for digital purchases on Xbox Live by using Microsoft Points to a system based on the users’ local currency was one of the more well received announcements at the company’s E3 2013 press conference. Sadly, now that we are getting the exact details as to how the switch will take place, it looks like just one more way that Microsoft is planning to screw over their loyal customers.
As described on the Xbox.com support page, Microsoft will convert all existing Microsoft Points in your Xbox Live account to your local currency equivalent as part of the fall 2013 update. At that point, you will then have exactly one year to spend the balance of the account before those funds expire.
The exact statement from Microsoft reads:
“You will begin using local currency or an Xbox Gift Card (denominated in your local currency) to buy music, games, videos, and more from your favorite Xbox stores. When you use your existing Microsoft Points to initiate a purchase or redeem a Points card with your Microsoft account later this year, we’ll deposit into your account an amount of money equal to or greater than the marketplace value of your Microsoft Points, and your Microsoft Points will be retired. The purchased funds you deposit into your account after the transition will not expire. However, the funds we deposit into your account at the time of the transition will expire one year from the deposit date.”
Microsoft also noted that they will stop selling Microsoft Points Cards after the launch of Xbox Gift Cards this fall (around the time of the Xbox One launch). Any active point cards that you have right now, or cards you purchase before the switch, can still be redeemed “through 2014 and for a limited time thereafter.” Any point cards that you fail to redeem after the deadline will apparently become worthless.
The end result of all of these expiring points will likely be that Microsoft will report a huge uptick in XBLA purchases just before the Microsoft Points expire, and then they will wipe out all the bits of left over funds that users were unable to spend (or funds they forgot to spend) before the arbitrary deadline.
What a great way to usher in the Xbox One digital age. Not only do you not own games you purchased, but you also don’t own the unused Microsoft Points that are currently sitting in your account.