Saturday, August 13, 2011

Free Microsoft Points ! Oops, just kidding.

A lot of people woke up Thursday morning to a seemingly miraculous occurrence; free Microsoft points.  For a company that rarely gives away anything without some serious strings attached, this was amazing.  But as quickly as they arrived, they were taken away. 

My starting points going into Wednesday night were 270.  I spent my week downloading arcade and indie games so my balance was pretty low.  When I logged onto Wednesday afternoon, I was greeted with 3350 points !  It was glorious.  I knew it was a fluke, and every ounce of my being wanted to rush home and start downloading before they disappeared.  But my stupid conscience got the best of me before I had the chance.  I had multiple conversations with the Xbox Account Specialists and this is what I found.

The addition of extra points was very wide spread.  The lucky individuals were those scheduled to receive points from the Xbox Rewards program.  The tag had to be signed up at least a month before Wednesday.  The program only rewards if the player has accrued 100 points or more, so anything under 100 didn't get anything extra.  The amount of points being award, was deposited into accounts.  And then deposited again.  And again.  And again.  Five times total.

I started with 270 points.  I had 440 points in my rewards program to be deposited this month.  So when it went in, it immediately went in four more times bringing me up to 3350.  I am a person that deals poorly with guilt, so I called Account Services and they removed the extra currency.  Although, it should be noted that even if I hadn't called, everyone with extra points had them removed the next day anyways.  So my tremendous 3350 went down to 710 (270 plus the 440 I was properly owed).

"Surprise !  We love our loyal customers !"

Xbox's equivalent of being Rick-Rolled

The group that didn't have them removed?  People who spent them right away, of course !  Xbox has not mentioned what they attempt to do for the people who used their extra points right away.  When the problem was first noticed, players stormed Xbox Support's Twitter feed asking what they should do.  The initial response was that it was Xbox's mistakes and the points are free to be used.  But only hours later, that answer changed sharply directing people not to spend the points or buy any more until the whole event was over.

It would seem that there is little Xbox will be able to do to rectify the lost points.  It would be unlikely for them to charge people for downloads.  There is the possibility that all downloaded content purchased could be removed.  But even that isn't fool proof if the points were spent on games that are already completed or can be stored on hard drives.  

Xbox will probably never tell us exactly what caused the computer glitch.  But one thing is for sure, there is definitely going to be a gigantic spike in people signing up for the Xbox Rewards program.  Perhaps the whole thing was a moderately clever ploy to get people to sign up.  Either way, I don't think the financial damage to Microsoft is anything the company can't promptly recover.


Linz said...

Seriously, I think Microsoft could manage to hand out some free points every now and then. And a company of their caliber could write off a few hundred digital hat downloads (because you KNOW people just bought their avatars crazy clothes with those free points.)

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