Ambiguously secure Xbox Live payments

It’s becoming clear that downloadable games of all sorts are going to be a central part of each of the next generation of game systems. Xbox 360 already has Xbox Live Arcade; Wii will have the Virtual Console; PlayStation 3 will have a similar thing we don’t know too much about yet.

You’ll need to get points of some kind to buy anything on those services, and presumably you’ll want to buy those points directly from the online service, while you’re using the console. If the great part about online distribution is instant gratification, you won’t want to go to Best Buy, buy a card, come back, enter the number on the card, and then download.

So you’d think the various online console services would want you to feel secure in using your credit card to buy stuff. But Microsoft isn’t making a very good impression. I just went to buy some Microsoft points so I could download Street Fighter II, and I had to add my credit card information to my Xbox Live account. When I use my credit card to buy stuff on the Internet, I know to look for “https” in the URL and the little lock in the bottom right corner to make sure it’s a legit, secure site. Xbox Live doesn’t have that.

Even worse, it doesn’t tell you anything about how it’s protecting your information. You can press a button for security information, but this is all it says: “Xbox Live is committed to helping protect the security of your personal information. Read the Xbox Live Privacy Statement for more information.”

Weak.

— August 3, 2006

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