Microsoft points, Moon Dollars, Banana Dollars, Orphan Tears, Dicklish Globules. Whatever you've called them, they've been the much maligned currency we've been forced to use when buying Microsoft goods over XBLA. Noone likes them, but we've all resigned ourself to the fact that they would be in our life forever. Like floss, or Rosie Perez.
Well now rumors are beginning to surface that Microsoft may be doing away with the fantasy bucks for good and moving to real-world currency in their stead. Inside Mobile Apps is reporting on a source within Microsoft stating that we'll see this change by the end of the year, and this would span all of Microsoft's subsidiary offerings such as Windows Phone and Zune Marketplace.
The change is not unexpected to those with a good sense for these things (e.g. me!). XBLA's Games on Demand service has moved to Earth Money for awhile now , and if Microsoft is looking to achieve complete integration with of all its devices -something we'll surely see once a new console hits- then they'll need to use a monetary system that not only bridges all those devices, but will also be accepted by the users of those devices.
Us gamers have been somewhat lackadaisical in terms of what we accept. Strange Kraken Bucks that leave you with leftover points which you will never spend? Sure! An online pass which makes you do extra legwork, or pay extra for a used product you already paid full sticker price for? Why not! But the world outside of gamer-dom is much different. It's filled with soccer moms and Home Depot dads who aren't used to shelling out $2.50 for a gun skin. These people won't be so accepting, and so it makes sense for Microsoft to be moving away from this particular model.
Of course, Microsoft is not commenting on this rumor because, if they do, the Gelflings will not succeed in their quest to repair the Dark Crystal and find One-Eyed Willies treasure. Well, I can't say I blame them. We wouldn't want that to happen.