XBL Rewards Program: More harm than good?

When XBL launched its rewards program I was pretty excited. For years I've been a loyal customer. Paid for the gold service, bought DLC regularly, tried out new services on the dashboard, etc. I thought Microsoft was actually about to reward their customers with "Kool-Aid point" kind of stuff. What we got was not only of no real consequence, but was downright insulting to longtime service users.

Lets look first at the facet of the program that got the most attention; rewards for achievement levels. On the surface this seems like a nice idea, but they had to be careful. Achievements have no real regulations, with game rewarding you 1000 points for anywhere between 2 minutes (Avatar: the Last Airbender) and hundreds of hours (Rumble Roses) of play. It's simply not realistic to give rewards with any real monetary value. Gamerscore is to easily driven up through games with "gimme" achievements. Instead XBL rewards gamers with 2 things of no real value. A n avatar item once a year and, (at the highest level) a 2% monthly rebate on marketplace purchases. While I understand that one should not complain about being given free money back, let's really look at what you get out of this. At 2% that means that when you spend 400 points ($5) you get back 8 points. Even a gamer who regularly spends $50 on the marketplace a month (which I strongly doubt is the norm) would receive a "reward" of $1. 

Again, free is free. I appreciate that. But this is truly a halfway effort by Microsoft. It's meant to be a feather in their cap with their playerbase. Something to let them say "See! We care about our players!". However, I don't see a single player getting excited about these rewards. They simply have no impact on the individual. While Microsoft may notice the 2% back they're giving when multiplied by a massive amount of players. Those nickles add up on that scale. But are they getting a return on this investment through player good will? I sincerely doubt it. I buy a lot of DLC but at 2% I can't get excited about 80 points in my account after having spent 4000.

The second issue I've seen with this service pertains to it's "reward point" program. Now this is the part of the service where it really looks like we're going to get some value. Things like "play 8 community playdates in a month for 100 points" is a great idea. But as I dug through the (relatively light) selection of ways to get points I found myself getting insulted rather than excited. "Activate and use Netflix for the first time 100 points", "make your first marketplace purchase 100 points" . What about those of us who have been loyal customers for years? I use Netflix all the time, but no 100 points for me, because...well, they've already got me on the hook, I suppose.

Here enlies the frustration for me. I understand marketing ploys like this are meant to lure in new customers. That an existing customer base is not as important as the customers a company does not have yet. But come on, Microsoft, think this through. With Playstation Plus members getting access to whole major-release games as part of their service you can no longer sit back on the "well, we charge because our service is better" answer. Another generation of consoles is coming, with an opportunity for Sony to fix the flaws in their online system. Now is the time to generate good will and loyalty amongst your existing users, not cast about for late, late....very late, adopters of your service. 

In short, the rewards system is lackluster. It's not that it's bad, it's that it's unimpressive. It's not something I feel compelled to tell all my friends about, and it should be. Why waste the money, Microsoft, if none of your customers are going to notice or care?

 

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Last updated July 4, 2018 Views 28 Applies to:

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Did you know you get 25 cents on your birthday?

I've gotten 2260 MSP from the Rewards program so far.  Just for doing what I normally do.  Hard to complain about getting something for nothing.

Compared to other programs, its a joke and very poor attempt at one. How long did those 2260 points even take? Most people I know have not even broke 1k, even by using this crappy program for a couple years. Meanwhile, I use a different rewards program and get 4800 points every two months while skipping two months to pay for Gold instead.

[quote user="Murderstyle75"]

Compared to other programs, its a joke and very poor attempt at one. How long did those 2260 points even take? Most people I know have not even broke 1k, even by using this crappy program for a couple years. Meanwhile, I use a different rewards program and get 4800 points every two months while skipping two months to pay for Gold instead.

[/quote]The problem with reward schemes like that is a lack of accessiblity.  Many of them are only available in the US, which is completely useless to the rest of the world.

It's because the program is actually run by a company only about 15 minutes away from my house. These rewards points are not coming from Microsoft. For they are only a client of ePrize who is the company the program actually belongs to. This is also why these points have an expiration date. They are not Microsofts points.

I also use Bing Rewards and have gotten many more points from that than Xbox Rewards,  and when you add the two together, I find it even harder to complain.  Would I like more free points? Sure, who wouldn't.  But I'm not entitled to them.

Meanwhile I get 4800 points every two months from a real rewards program as well as my Gold subscription 100% paid for. That's a lot better than 25 cents on your birthday and 20 cents for buying a 20.00 digital game.

How do you get so many pts? I've been on Xbox Live Rewards since October and have gotten 420pts. Decent but that's what? 5$ Half of it was because my Gold Subscription renewed. I really hope Sony fixes their online and use more dedicated servers to improve connection speed and decrease lag. If Xbox Live stays the way it is, I'm moving to the PS4.

Sorry Microsoft, you're no longer the Gold Standard of online gaming like you were a couple of years ago. You rightfully charged your customers 60$ a year to simply play online but it's no longer warranted. PSN+ blows you out of the water in terms of actually rewarding their loyal customers.

And your issue with lag on the PS3 I am 100% certain is your wireless connection. Hardware is the one big con of the Playstation. For wifi, its only Wireless G vs Wireless N on the 360. If you plug on with an Ethernet cable though, you won't experience any problems. It runs just as flawless as Xbox Live. Hardware is also the reason they don't have party chat. The official statement from Sony says the console doesn't have enough ram to support it. This was Sonys biggest flaw this gen when they focused on Blu-Ray making them have to cut corners in other areas to keep costs to a minimum. The Live service is not a bit better because there is a fee attached to it. It has more features that people think are premium over their competition only because they will need a new console to handle them. I wonder what the excuse next gen is going to be when these features are in place

That's really too bad for me. I live in Canada so I don't think I have any access to the things you do. The best I got was a meagre 20pts for my birthday. I even searched online to see if it was serious. I told myself they probably meant to give me 200pts, not just 20 but it turns out they only gave 25 cents as a birthday present.

I agree with the last part of your post. Once the next gen PlayStation hits the stores, they'll have no excuse to charge for online multiplayer. If they do, they can be sure they'll lose me as a customer. They better start offering better deals than the crap they're giving now.

I don't have any problems per se with my PS3 and I do use an Ethernet cable. It's simply that I noticed when I play games, the connection isn't as good as on my Xbox. Be it COD, Dark Souls or MK. For me the speed and consistency of Xbox Live is better. I went to a friend's house and his PSN connection was like mine. It's definitely playable but it has some problems here and there whereas I never experienced problems on Xbox Live save for a few lags in Halo 3 and MK in the first month.

I honestly don't have a preference. I simply choose what's best for me. Fanboyism is useless, big companies still don't care about you. They care about your money. Why defend them like they paid you to when YOU are the one paying them?

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