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Putting the ‘Con’ into Console

Looking back at previous gaming generations, it seems hard to image a time without being able to download games and related items from consoles. Whether it’s from the PlayStation Store, Xbox Live’s Marketplace, or the Wii’s Shopping Channel, each offer bite size gaming merchandise, for a bite size price.

Hundreds if not thousands of people use these facilities everyday and for the most part are happy to do so. There are however, ever increasing numbers of people becoming frustrated with these virtual stores. The reason behind these annoyances is the way in which we pay for the content.

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Each of the systems’ stores operates in a different manner and each has their critics. Xbox Live’s Marketplace requires the purchase of Points which come in preset amounts. Fair enough you may think, but when we realise that the games aren’t sold in the same dominations, it soon becomes apparent that something is off. There’s also the question of why they’re using Points in the first place? Could it possibly be done to make us less aware of how much we’re actually spending?

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The Wii’s Shopping Channel also operates using Points. However, regular Nintendo buyers also have the ability to convert Stars (a loyalty scheme where customers are given a code with the purchase of each Nintendo product, which can be used to buy various goods from an online catalogue) into points. Unfortunately, this is the most flawed method I’ve ever seen. Firstly there are only so many allocated Point cards each day, and most are quickly out of stock. Why Nintendo see fit to put limits on a virtual currency is beyond me. The second is the conversion rate. I’m relatively new to the Stars scheme, but have spent a lot of money on Nintendo products, including a Wii, DS Lite and a number of games. In total it’s probably over £400 of merchandise. Converting the Stars into Points allowed me to purchase ONE Megadrive or SNES game. Not a very good way to repay some of the most loyal customers in the gaming industry.

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Sony’s PlayStation Store operates slightly differently in that it uses the regional currency, pricing the contents in pounds & pence (or if you use Monopoly money dollars & cents, euro’s & cents). Like all the other systems the store requires funds to be added in specific amounts of £5, £10, £15 etc. So why the hell are they using pence? What are we supposed to do with 1p?

“What are we supposed to do with 1p?”These companies may be inadvertently shooting themselves in the foot and loosing business. How many of us have wanted something off the stores, only to find ourselves 100 Points short. Do you add 500 Points, or just go without? Give us smaller denominations and you never know, we might just spend more. As for Nintendo, give us a better exchange rate of our Stars to Points.

The author of this fine article

is a Staff Writer at Thunderbolt, having joined in January 2008.

Gentle persuasion

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