Microsoft restructures Xbox point purchasing

Consumers who want to buy a standard-priced $5 game on Xbox Live can now simply add $5 to their account, as Microsoft changes a confusing restriction that required users to buy points in $6.25 increments.

While all three game consoles offer digital distribution content, Microsoft is the most confusing with its pricing structure. Its “Microsoft Points” currency sometimes makes it difficult to tell how much something actually costs.

Each Microsoft Point is worth 1.25 cents, so a game that’s listed on Xbox Live Marketplace for 400 points actually costs $5. Most of the content on the digital store is priced in 400-point increments.

However, Xbox Live users who purchased points directly through the console were required to buy points in increments of 500. This often led to customers with pocket change amounts of points in their account and no easy way to spend them.

As pointed out by gaming blog Kotaku, Microsoft has finally changed that system, allowing users to buy the digital currency in intervals of 400 points. That mirrors the pricing structure that Microsoft had been using with prepaid Xbox Live Points cards sold at retail stores, as well as online point-purchasing at Microsoft’s Zune Store.

Nintendo offers its downloadable games using a “Nintendo Points” system with a clean $1.00 = 100 Points conversion rate. Like the new Xbox structure, Nintendo Points need to be purchased in $5 increments. The PS3 is the only system that allows users to pay face value for a game. So if consumers go to the digital PlayStation Store and want to buy Burnout Paradise for $19.99, they simply enter in their credit card information and pay $19.99 (plus tax where applicable). It’s much easier for PS3 owners to avoid junk leftover points than it is on the other systems.

In an interview earlier this year, Xbox product director Aaron Greenberg said that he was looking into ways to “be transparent” about the pricing structure for digital content on the Xbox 360.