It has been a long time coming, but Microsoft is reportedly ready to officially kill off its Points system of virtual currency, primarily used through the Xbox platform.
Sources have told The Verge that Microsoft will replace Points with a gift card system similar to Apple's iTunes codes, allowing shoppers to use real-world currency to purchase virtual content.
In addition, the sources said cash transactions through credit and debit cards will be supported. This new virtual currency system will be compatible across Microsoft's online marketplaces, including Xbox, the Windows Store, and the Windows Phone Store.
The new system will reportedly be officially announced as soon as the 2013 Electronic Entertainment Expo early next month and introduced later in the year ahead of the arrival of Microsoft's next Xbox.
A Microsoft representative told GameSpot, "We don't comment on rumors or speculation."
The first report of Microsoft axing Points came in January 2012, when a source said the company was planning to phase out its Points system by the end of the year in favor of real-world currency.
Microsoft Points have been in place since the inception of Xbox Live and have not been without criticism. Rather than using real-world currency, Microsoft has adopted its own system, where 400 Microsoft Points is equivalent to $5. Further, Microsoft sells Point packs only in multiples of 400, often leaving gamers with excess points after purchasing content that they want.
This last point led to a 2010 class-action lawsuit, where Microsoft was accused of defrauding the class by "collecting revenues for digital goods and services which were not provided."