UPDATE: Some people say they can spend points for Games On Demand, others say not, but whatever the problem was, it seems to not be a problem anymore.
Microsoft recently launched a new Games On Demand section of its Xbox Live marketplace service in which players can purchase and download digital versions of popular retail Xbox 360 games. Like just about everything else in the marketplace, these games cost money, but don't try to use your traditional Microsoft Points to pay for the purchase. For whatever reason, Games On Demand can only be purchased with real money and not Microsoft's own brand of money. The Consumerist has the story.
Dork that I am, I got giddy when I heard Microsoft would start selling full downloads of retail Xbox 360 games to hard drives under the new Games on Demand banner. I bought $60 worth of Microsoft points in order to download Call of Duty 2 and Lego Star Wars: The Complete Saga. But when I tried to buy the games, my 360 stopped me cold. It gave me the option to either buy the games with a credit card or input a 20-digit code, but wouldn't let me spend my Microsoft funny money.
Discouraged, I called customer service. The CSR told me Games on Demand required "real money" rather than Microsoft Points. When I told him I bought those points with "real money," he explained that Microsoft was responding to consumer demand by letting customers purchase games directly with credit cards rather than making them jump through the Microsoft Points hoops. I asked if he could refund my points or maybe transfer them back into "real money" so I could spend them on the games I wanted, but he turned me down. His supervisor, "George," gave me the same spiel and refused to let me speak to his manager, who "doesn't take calls." At least the supe gave me a reference number and advice about how to complain about his service on xbox.com. A crafty one, George reminded me of the Indian version of myself, so I couldn't find it in my heart to complain.
That's quite the sneaky move from Microsoft. While I believe that the whole system of using points instead of dollars, pounds,yen, etc. is ridiculous (and that goes for Nintendo's version of virtual currency, too), if the company has set up its infrastructure to work with points over dollars and trained its customers to swap cash for points, then it should not swing back into preferring dollars instead. I'm reminded of the "Itchy & Scratchy Land" episode of The Simpsons in which the family visits the eponymous Itchy & Scratchy Land amusement park. While buying admission tickets for the family, Homer takes the ticket agent up on a unique offer.
Homer: One adult and four children.
Woman: Would you like to buy some Itchy and Scratchy Money?
Homer: What's that?
Woman: Well it's money that's made just for the park. It works just like regular money, but it's, er..."fun".
Bart: Do it, Dad.
Homer: Well, OK, if it's fun...let's see, uh...I'll take $1100 worth. [he walks into the park, sees all the signs: "No I&S Money", "We Don't Take Itchy and Scratchy Money", etc.] Aw!