Xbox Live Rewards Have Real Value
Five years after the Xbox 360 launched, Microsoft has created a loyalty rewards program. It's about time.
Xbox Live Rewards doles out Microsoft Points - the currency used for games and other content - for things like renewing a subscription, activating Netflix and buying specific downloadable games.
Sony launched its own rewards program for the Playstation 3 in late October, but the perks are inferior. Instead of getting points that you can spend anywhere on the Playstation Network, you get "exclusive" avatars and themes and a chance to win prizes. In other words, buying lots of stuff doesn't bring you any closer to getting free games or movies.
But Sony and Microsoft have different reasons for offering rewards in the first place. Sony, quite simply, wants you to buy more stuff, while Microsoft is trying to enroll more people in Xbox Live. Many of its rewards are aimed at new users - you can get 400 points ($5) for getting an Xbox Live family plan, or 100 points for buying your first item on the Xbox Live marketplace - and the biggest payouts come from staying enrolled. Clearly, Microsoft is trying to get all those Kinect buyers onto paid subscriptions.
Still, you don't need an Xbox Live Gold plan to earn rewards from Microsoft. Buying select games and taking monthly surveys are enough to get a couple bucks in points every year. Maybe I'm just not enough of an avatar junkie, but I'll take the points over Sony's incentives any day.