Xbox 360 Game Download Store Uses Cash Prices, Remainder of Marketplace Could Follow Suit

Microsoft's August-due Games on Demand section of the Xbox Live Marketplace, set to enable users to digitally purchase and download full-fledged Xbox 360 retail games, will forgo Microsoft Points in favor of real-world currency.

"For the first time in Games Marketplace, we're showing the price in local currency," Microsoft director of digitally distributed games Scott Austin explained in a presentation with Shacknews. "That way you can see if we're the same price as retail or not, people can understand--a little more transparency that we're providing to our consumers."

Buyers will be able to directly bill their credit card for the exact price of the game, instead of being forced to use Microsoft Points--wherein 80 Points is equivalent to $1, and Points can only be purchased in increments of 500 ($6.25), 1000 ($12.50), 2000 ($25) or 5000 ($62.50). However, users can opt to use their existing balance of Microsoft Points for full game downloads if they wish. "You now have the choice," said Austin.

When asked if this shift towards local currency would carry over to the rest of the Xbox Live Marketplace--the offerings of which include downloadable content, Xbox Live Arcade games, music videos, and movies--Austin responded, "Not in the immediate future."

"Let's see how users use this," he added. "We'll give the customers what they want."

At first, Games on Demand won't offer simultaneous releases of the same games hitting stores that week, with Austin musing that "we'll see how that evolves."

Instead, the storefront will be updated every week with back catalog releases that are "new to the service," with LEGO Star Wars: The Complete Saga, BioShock, Mass Effect, Assassin's Creed, Oblivion, and DiRT among the initial offerings.

Each game will be priced comparatively with their retail editions. For example, LEGO Star Wars: The Complete Saga shared the same $19.99 price it carries at retailers.