One of the most annoying aspects of the Xbox 360 Marketplace is Microsoft Points, a fake currency used to buy games and add-ons that obscures how much real money you're spending. But that may be on the way out.
In an interview with G4, Microsoft's Aaron Greenberg had this to say about the Points system.
We never intended to ever mislead people. I think we want to be transparent about it, and so it is something that we're looking at. How can we be more transparent and let people see it in actual dollars?
This is good news! The Points system is transparently sleazy, with it set up so you can only buy points in chunks that are not easily divided into the amount games and such are sold for. Basically, products are all sold in numbers divisible by 200 (200, 400, 1200 point prices are standard) while you can only buy points in chunks divisible by 500 (500, 1000, 2000 or 5000 points are your only options). This almost always leaves you with an awkward number of points left over that you're forced to pay for. You then need to add more points to that awkward remainder to buy more, which will probably give you another awkward remainder, and so on and so forth. This is absolutely the only reason Microsoft has for not allowing you to just buy chunks of 400 or 800 points at a time.
Combine this with the fact that putting a different number value between a product and it's true dollar value is designed to make you forget you're spending real money (it's easier to justify spending 5000 points than $US62.50), and you see why this is a pretty anti-consumer system. So it's good news that Microsoft is considering changing it!
But don't think they're just doing it because they've suddenly acquired a conscience. In all likelihood, if Microsoft moves away from the Points system on Xbox Live, it's because they're planning on expanding the Zune Marketplace and integrating it more with the Xbox 360. The Zune Marketplace is in dollars (or whatever local currency you're using), and it'd be much easier to unify the two systems by switching it all to currency than cramming the points system into the Zune Marketplace.
But whatever motivation Microsoft has, moving away from the points system and into real currency is definitely a good thing. Allowing people to pay for only what they want using the normal currency they use every day is just more honest all around, and you can't argue with honesty. [G4 via Kotaku]