Wednesday, 3 April 2013

A lesser writer would title this 'Pointless'

by Peter Smith

Around October last year I started playing Telltale games outstanding 'The Walking Dead', a series I downloaded from Xbox Live marketplace. This article isn't about the game itself, but while I'm able to crowbar it in here, I have to add my two cents into an already Scrooge Mcduck sized coin room about how powerful the narrative is; in fact during the credits my face ripped open new holes just to cry out of, and I pretty much resembled Cohagen's death in Total Recall.

That or a Lovecraftian Orgasm face
Plenty of awards and praise have been rightfully lauded on it, although I was a bit taken aback as to why BAFTA named 'Dishonored' (their lack of U, not mine) best game of the year, when it was essentially 'Same gameplay, different hat' when compared to other titles. What The Walking Dead has to do with this article, is it was the first time I'd regularly buy something on XBOX Live, and such I accumulated plenty of left over Microsoft points. Which over time led me to realise this.

Microsoft points are Itchy and Scratchy Money.

Remember when hearing 'Remember when the Simpsons was good?' wasn't more depressing than the current show itself?

Unnecessary transactional alterations under the pretence of 'fun'.

In fact, it's worse, firstly because it's mandatory;secondly because it doesn't have a correlation to the monetary amount you pay for and you end up getting hundreds or thousands, and you end up paying 1000 'points' for something like a Sci-Fi utopia. Or Japan.  2000 Microsoft points is £17.50 you say?
Then sell whatever it is for that amount.
How about that? 

Why can't I buy something that is essentially £5, for £5?
I don't want some whimsical transference that leaves me with an uneven amount and points left over. 
I don't want virtual pennies left over, I'm buying something online, the very notion of getting 'change' is redundant and counterproductive to the entire system itself. I'm sure some people go 'ooh whoopee I have some unspent Microsoft points that will amass periodically'. I just think 'I can't buy shit with this, stop taunting me'. I'll pay £5 for something that's £4.50, and I'll be left with change and unable to do anything with it. It'll remain isolated in the ether until more unnecessary shrapnel arrives and I get something I can actually use. I'm sure it's a nice treat to some people, but at the end of the day it's basically how actual currency works. Except with real money you can actually spend your change whenever you feel like it.

Or put 67p in 1p coins into one of these. The people in the queue can wait. Wooooooooooshhh!!

And the arbitrary exchange rate is baffling, as if they've had serious talks with delegates and representatives from the stock market like a farcical sketch in a terrible videogames comedy...probably called 'Xbox Laugh'...or something depressing like that. If you're going to have Microsoft points, then you can sell 2000 for £20. It's fine. It's more than likely the expected ratio that people would expect. Stop trying to make it'fun', the fact I'm on a games console is more than fun enough. Don't hide behind kooky currency or superfluous customisations. It's £10. I know it. You know it. I am fine that it is £10, I don't need some exclusive currency style. I'd prefer if I could just buy it without having to go through the middle man that is tedious theme park tokens.
Other DRM platforms such as Blizzard and the Playstation store are built on a direct goods-for-money service and they're accessible and simple to use. Microsoft is alone, advertising items in a specific currency but then making you stop to deal with point conversions before the product is in your hand. They're waving the banner of a 'fun experience' unaware that the circus tent has been razed to the ground and the clowns are committing seppuku behind the cotton candy stall.

Leaves Fall. The air nestles against my skin.  The wind cleans the blade. Honk Honk Honk.

Bluntly, Microsoft points need to be ritually slaughtered. They're inconsistent, confusing and a downgrade from a unified and proverbial method of buying items that end up irritating me far more than they should. They turn me into somebody writing a vitriolic decry against 'made up' legal tender on the internet. And there's only so many ways I can become a horrible scarecrow against joy before playing videogames won't soothe it.

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