If you want to purchase downloadable games on the current generation of consoles, only one company has made it counter-intuitive. It’s not Sony – they charge actual $US money for games. Neither is it Nintendo, which uses and one-to-one, point-to-penny system.
Why the hell, then, does Microsoft bother with a non-equal point system? I have two guesses: misdirection and laziness.
Which sounds less expensive to you: 800 Microsoft Points or $10? When you use large numbers to reflect small amounts, they seem smaller than actual. More pragmatically, this also allows Microsoft to keep one MP price for each item while allowing for different per point prices in other countries. That means less work for Microsoft’s programmers. Of course, the math is pretty easy.
To convert your US currency to Microsoft Points, you use either of these simple formulas:
[ 80 MP = US$1.00 ]
Sure seems like 100 points for $1.00 would be easier for customers. With most of the Xbox Live downloadable games costing 800 points, that means you are actually paying $10 per game. Those little 200-points extras – crappy gamer images, skins are other silly stuff – really cost $2.50 each.
OK, so I’m being a little harsh. A Scrip system like this (“scrip” is what the pros call using tokens and non-money to represent money) cuts down on international exchange fees as well. But, damn, if some people are still not confused by it.
Figuring it out involves math and, for many, numbers are scary. (“Oh no, the number 3 is threatening to bite me!”) Instead, you can use various online or downloadable calculators to convert most currencies into MPs.
- My favorite online conversion site, and the most popular, is MSPConverter. You type in a point value and it instantly shows you the actual cost in eight different currencies. It also has the simpliest yet most appealing design of all the calculators.
- Another nice but not quite as snazzy converter is on Thomas Meyer’s personal site. It lacks graphics but has several preset buttons for single-press results (no typing required) and also shows results for multiple currencies.
- Taking a step down are a couple with mediocre better results displays such as Wrong Advices and Roxxor. If looks don;t count then, hey, these work, too.
- There are some similar we-based converters that don’t have either a refined interface or refined results. Most often they include a simple script and then spit out accurate result as a text line and for only one (sometimes selectable) currency, which means you usually have a spend a few second hunting for the result. Examples include 260Plex and Gangster Panda.
For those who prefer extra icon on your desktop, you an also download various homebrew converters for your PC (both Macintosh and Windows). The good news is that these are all pretty small and easy to install. The bad news is they are pretty limited and the downloads might eventually move.
- For Windows there is FactorX Games (download), which is small, easy to use and only converts to US$. The other is Xbox Xchg 1.1 available through Softpedia (download) which requires the Yahoo! Widget Engine (yet another download).
- For Mac you can download Microsoft Points Calculator 1.0 from Softpedia (download).
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