How Microsoft Points Make You Spend

Ever wonder why Microsoft points are 80 to the dollar? The answer is about as diabolical as you’re probably guessing. The strange number is used to throw off your concept of value, encouraging you to spend more.

In a feature at Gamasutra, the psychology behind Microsoft points and buying habits is laid bare. The article is a fascinating read. A lot of it is obvious when you think about it, but Gamasutra writer Jamie Madigan uses psychological studies as extra-compelling evidence.

The same studies that apply to spending habits in foreign currency apply to Microsoft Points. “Tourists have long noticed this ‘Monopoly money’ effect where the unfamiliar bills and coins with funny little holes in them don’t seem as real as the currency back home,” explained Madigan. “This largely has to do with the fact that they don’t usually put the mental effort into doing the math.”

The points become practically meaningless once they’re in your account. Even without the odd conversion factor, I find it easy to buy a game I might be a bit more hesitant about otherwise.

Do you find the points system confusing or deceiving? Is the PSN model more honest? Check out Gamasutra’s article and share your thoughts below.

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Video games became an amazing, artful, interactive story-driven medium for me right around when I played Panzer Dragoon Saga on Sega Saturn. Ever since then, I’ve wanted to be a part of this industry. Somewhere along the line I, possibly foolishly, decided I’d rather write about them than actually make them. So here I am.