Microsoft Points, shortened to MSP, were used as currency to buy Microsoft Software. It was implemented for users of Xbox Live. As Microsoft and the gaming community and hardware are expanding into a more casual open media front there are rumors that Microsoft plans to get rid of the current system of having to buy Microsoft Points to buy software and other items from its online store/marketplace.
Its two main rivals, Nintendo and Sony have similar stores that work in different ways. While Nintendo also work on a similar points system, and have done since just before the release of the Nintendo DSi, Sony PlayStation operate on a cent-for-cent basis. In the last couple of years, games and other items can also be bought from the marketplace on a cent-for-cent basis rather than using points. Purchases are usually done via an attached credit card, PayPal account, or PrePaid card which can be bought from stores and redeemed for points.
One major problem is that the denominations of MSP are too large, requiring a user to have to buy $5 worth of points to buy a $1 game for example. Remaining points are kept on the account as store credit and can be used again, but for more casual users of the console and service the remaining points are usually not used. These unused points can’t be transferred or refunded.
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It is assumed that it will change to regional pricing similar to that of Steam, iTunes and PlayStation network. It is unclear if any unused point cards will become useless, or if a wallet system might be introduced. This is just a rumor revealed by a company which was told to prepare to change prices for any downloadable games and content. If it is true, it is likely to be phased out by 2013.