Don't Panic: Microsoft not raising XBLA prices during conversion to local currency

Yesterday saw a bit of a panic and some fist-shaking from Xbox 360 owners, as site after site reported on an apparent price hike in the Xbox Live store.

Here's the deal. Microsoft is finally dumping their annoying "Xbox Points" system and just listing prices in whatever your local currency is. That change is coming in a future update to the dashboard, and that update is currently being beta tested.

In the UK, at least, people were seeing prices that were higher than the old Xbox Live points amounts once those were converted to local currency. A bunch of sites reported on this...let's pick on The Escapist today. Their headline read Xbox Live Currency Conversion Results In Hefty Price Hike.

Naturally this is a bad thing, but I don't think it's a stretch to at least consider that maybe things weren't working exactly as intended. It is a beta, after all. Of course it's easy for me to be smug with the benefit of 20-20 hindsight, but the important thing is that later in the day Microsoft told Joystiq that, indeed, this was a bug. Here's the Microsoft quote as given to Joystiq:

"We are aware that select regions experienced some incorrect game title pricing in the Xbox Live beta. This was an unintended error that we are in the process of fixing.We'll be reimbursing impacted beta participants for the difference in what was paid and what the price will be after the update is available to all members."

So there you have it. If you happened to see the earlier posts and missed the correction, now you can unclench. Local currency prices, once everything is working correctly, should be the same as converted Xbox Points prices.

As long as I'm on the topic of Xbox, I read an amusing post over at Ars Technica yesterday. As you no doubt remember, after E3 Xbox was taking a beating about its new DRM system on the Xbox One, which resulted in them completely changing course. And so the crowd of angry Internet denizens settled down.

Or did they? Now there's a petition called "Microsoft: Give us back the Xbox One we were promised at E3." It just goes to prove you can't please everybody.

Now to be fair, we're talking about just 4,000+ signatures so far and it seems like many of those who signed seemed to have done so ironically. But I think the organizer has a point when he says "It can't be all or nothing, there must be a compromise."

Some folks think Microsoft should offer a choice: let users 'opt-in' to the 24 hour check-in system and all that it entails. I don't see how that would work for physical media. For example I could opt-in to the check-in method, buy a disk and install the game off it, then pass the disk on to my friend who didn't opt-in to the check in system, resulting in two copies of the game coming from a single purchase.

But that doesn't apply to digital products. It doesn't seem out of the question to allow some of the perks of the old system for those games that were purchased digitally (I'm talking about sharing with family members and potentially giving away or selling digital titles when you're done with them). If Microsoft brought that system back (and it must already be built, right? There's a Day 1 patch for the Xbox One that's going to undo the old system) it'd be a great way to positively differentiate the Xbox One from Sony's PS4. Heck I think it'd be a major selling point.

Am I right, or am I missing something obvious that would prevent Microsoft from going this route?

Read more of Peter Smith's TechnoFile blog and follow the latest IT news at ITworld. Follow Peter on Twitter at @pasmith. For the latest IT news, analysis and how-tos, follow ITworld on Twitter and Facebook.

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