By now you should all be well aware that Microsoft is finally bringing Xbox Live to South Africa. Next week Wednesday (November 10th) will see the official launch of the Xbox 360 online service in our country.
The announcement was met with vociferous approval by our local Xbox 360 scene. But naturally, because most gamers seem to be shackled to entitlement complexes, that heartfelt joy gave way to mixed responses, which in turn gave way to moaning and bitching after the local pricing was announced.
Many (in fact, I’m willing to bet that most) local Xbox 360 users already have Xbox Live accounts thanks to fake US or UK addresses and some underhanded trickery. This in turn created a market for local suppliers to provide Xbox Live subscription codes and Microsoft Points to South African gamers. Evopoints.co.za, ZapsOnline.com and MSpoints.co.za are perhaps the most widely used online shops providing the much sought-after Gold subscriptions and MS currency.
With the impending release of local Xbox Live and its heavy pricing structure, online retailers like those mentioned above will probably experience a surge in business. All of this is well and good, but local Xbox Live brings with it another topic for discussion: which local digital distribution channel is cheaper, Xbox Live or the PlayStation Network?
A few gamers are fortunate enough to own both an Xbox 360 and a PlayStation 3. For those, this question of price discrepancies is a relevant one. For those who own one of either console, the answer to the question at least unlocks additional ammunition for your endless fanboy crusades against heathens who do not believe in your console’s superiority.
To begin with, I’m going to look at both Microsoft’s and Sony’s digital distribution channel using official pricing for points and cards. So far, Microsoft has only announced pricing for 2100 MS Points, which will set you back R299.00. Seeing as this is the only official local pricing for MS Points that we know of so far (whether we will get increments of 400 or 4200 MS Points is yet to be seen) we can work out that it costs a little over 0.14c per MS Point. Take2.co.za is listing South African MS Points cards worth 800 points for R152.00, but this makes it even more expensive at 0.19c per point.
There is a ton of content that is available on both XBL and the PSN. Each service definitely has its exclusives, but we’re more interested in that content which can be found on both. Let’s take a recent example: Rockstar’s Undead Nightmare DLC for Red Dead Redemption. On the PSN, this expansion costs R95.00. On XBL the content pack is pegged at 800 MS Points, which works out to a little over R112.00 if you use the official pricing of R299.00 for 2100 MS Points. A difference of R17.00 is no big deal. Or is it? It’s roughly 18% more expensive on XBL. Buying the Undead Nightmare Collection (which includes all of the Red Dead Redemption DLC to date) sets you back 1600 MS Points, which equates to a little more than R224.00. The same pack on the PSN costs R199.00. Once again XBL is more expensive; 12.5% more expensive actually.
Of course, that’s all DLC for other games. What about stand-alone titles like the recently released Costume Quest? Double Fine’s latest digital release costs 1200 MS Points, which works out to just over R168.00.On the PSN it costs R107.00. A R61.00 price difference is a lot for a digitally released game, there’s no way to sugar-coat that fact.
Looking at other recently released games, the same thing is apparent. Lara Croft and the Guardian of Light is 1200 MS Points (R168.00) or R125.00 off the PSN. DeathSpank: Thongs of Virtue is exactly the same. Going back a little further, Braid is 800 MS Points (R112.00) or R95.00 on the PSN.
It’s not all doom and gloom for the Xbox 360 though; well maybe it is if you use official, local Microsoft pricing for MS Points. If you use online retailers who import the cards, then you’ll obviously get a reduced rate. To put it into perspective: ZapsOnline sells UK/Europe MS Points for R199.00 for 2100. That’s R100.00 cheaper than our local equivalent and because the code is delivered by email there’s virtually zero waiting. At that price, MS Points work out to just 0.09c each, thereby making DLC like Rockstar’s Undead Nightmare cost R72.00 on Xbox Live as opposed to R95.00 on the PSN.
The catch is, of course, that you will have to maintain your UK-based fake XBL account – so far, it’s been implied that a South African Xbox Live account will be locked into our local pricing for MS Points forever. In other words, imported MS Points cards won’t work on a South African account. Of course, once local Xbox Live launches, Lazygamer will test this theory and let you all know.
In the meantime, Microsoft has confirmed that South African’s with UK and US accounts will not have their account disconnected once local Live launches. Of course, the increased price of MS Points doesn’t give those of us with overseas accounts much incentive to migrate to the South African XBL. Microsoft has pointed towards product support and guaranteed MS Points redemption codes as a perk to switching to local XBL, but you know what, I’ve been on Xbox Live on a UK account for nearly four years now and I’ve never needed product support and all of my MS Points purchases from online retailers have worked out just fine.
For local Xbox gamers who have yet to connect to Xbox Live, then the launch of local Live is a good thing. While it’ll be more expensive than the less user-friendly workaround accounts we’ve used in the past, it’ll at least be a straightforward process with the benefit of full support for those who are less savvy with how the service works. And hey, it’s not like we as gamers aren’t used to paying more for our stuff in South Africa, isn’t it?
Last Updated: November 5, 2010
November 5, 2010 at 13:09
i’ll create a fake SA account and see how it compares to my uk account.
November 5, 2010 at 13:17
Fantastic article Miklos!!!!
Just two points id like to make in the interest of full disclosure:
(1) You can purchase R500 PSN cards for R450 on Kalahari and R200 PSN cards for R180 so there are cheaper alternatives than just paying sticker price on PSN with your credit card.
(2) If MS continue to price us out of wanting to migrate our accounts to Xbox Live South African then Live is going to flop in our country and we will all be at step one again where we miss out on mature content and special DLC codes and downloads. So we are pretty much stuck in a catch 22. Damned if you dont and damned if you do. If we dont support Live SA then MS will never treat us like a proper emerging market and we will get less and less support from them over time. Miklos you should take these findings from your article and contact MS South Africa along with all the negative responses from local Xbox gamers to their pricing stratgey and find out what you can because this is really cxomplete BS in my opinion!!!
November 5, 2010 at 13:40
MS justify the cost of points because they will now have physical ‘vouchers’ in shops and sadly since they don’t work on an actual money amount they can sell them for what ever they want.
People stocking Sony vouchers have to sell them at the listed price of the voucher. So if it says R100 it must cost R100 (That’s why the vouchers aren’t taxed in america when you buy them in shops).
I don’t see any benefit for the consumer when it comes to a points system.
November 5, 2010 at 13:46
Undead Nightmare is R76 for PSN PLUS members.
November 5, 2010 at 13:48
I wholly agree with A!ID on this one. We should support the local implementation of XBL.
Perhaps if MS were a bit more transparent on why the price point is so high. If they are using that money to implement local severs then I’ll tolerate paying the extra if my gaming experience is improved.
November 5, 2010 at 13:50
So if we stock up on points now, before release, then on release day if we switch…we should be fine right, the points should carry over at full value?
November 5, 2010 at 13:52
Yes. Microsoft SA has already said that any MS Points you have left before you migrate your account, will be brought over to your SA account.
November 5, 2010 at 13:58
Not to mention that if you have Playstation Plus (R483 per year)you get a lot of free games, ad dons discounts and themes.
Also PSN is free so.. you would have to equate that into the Xbox360 Live equation as well.
November 5, 2010 at 13:58
Then mentioned on facebook the reason the price is high is because they have physical ‘vouchers’ in retail shops. They have to sell the online vouchers the same price as the retail vouchers.
It’s kind of moot because Sony do the same thing and their prices online are the same as in store.
November 5, 2010 at 14:25
Great, well researched, well written article. Really puts things into perspective. My plan remains to stock up on 10 000 odd points, then migrate.
Nick de Bruyne
November 5, 2010 at 15:11
Miklos, why is this article so very well researched? Are you trying to get fired?
November 5, 2010 at 15:22
Haha! Well, I’m secretly trying to take over the entire website by distracting you with heavily researched articles. Then, while you’re all in awe of the vast quantities of factual data, I’ll begin my hostile takeover.
Nick de Bruyne
November 5, 2010 at 15:42
Dammit. That would totally work, except for the fact that our short attention spans wouldn’t allow it
November 5, 2010 at 16:11
Well it did take a week to do (well that’s when I started chatting to Gavin about it).
Still it was a lot longer and more investigated than I thought it would be!
November 5, 2010 at 16:11
Thats a pathetic reason. Kalahari ship the PSN vouchers to you in a playstation game case and still sell it R50 cheaper. Dont be so quick to listen to the MS PR men. They have zero excuse for doing what they are doing!!!!
Nick de Bruyne
November 5, 2010 at 16:18
Nick de Bruyne
November 5, 2010 at 16:44
Dammit RSA-Ace your comment had me so confused for a while, you made it sound like you wrote the post LOL. But I see what you mean now about suggesting the idea.
November 5, 2010 at 16:45
Ahh… you’re the reader Gavin mentioned then. 🙂
November 5, 2010 at 17:36
Ha ha. Sorry Nick – I see it took just under 30 minutes – it’s a Friday, I understand.
I told Gavin after I read that Costume Quest article. We then did some embarrassingly hard maths and got things all wrong until realising MS are having a laugh with the SA prices.
November 6, 2010 at 11:45
3rd paragraph, 5th line should read:”sought after…”
Nick de Bruyne
November 6, 2010 at 13:59
Thanks, it has been rectified
November 7, 2010 at 23:41
Yeah sorry I should have passed on the readers name… being you and all..
It took a while but real quality always does 🙂