This weekend, Microsoft delivered something so basic, so essential to using an Xbox One or Xbox 360 that it’s hard to believe the company didn’t already have a solution for the problem in place already. As of this week there’s an answer to the age old question everyone with family members who have an Xbox console ask during the holiday season: “How do you gift Xbox One or Xbox 360 credit?”
This holiday season users can purchase digital credit for Xbox One and Xbox 360 users without heading to a store by using the Digital Gift Cards app for Windows Phone. Digital gift cards in the app are separated by themes. For example, there’s are different digital Microsoft gift cards for birthdays, the winter holidays, Christmas and New Year’s. In all, there are 41 separate Microsoft gift card designs for users to choose from.
Gifting a digital Microsoft gift card is pretty simple. First you login to the Digital Gift Cards app using your own Microsoft Account. Then you select a digital gift card design and provide the email of the person you’re trying to send the gift card too. Users can schedule digital Microsoft gift cards in advance so that they go out exactly on Christmas morning with any extra work or hassle. Gift card tracking is available through the app too.
To be clear, Microsoft has merged many of its digital stores over the years. As such, credit applied to a Microsoft Account is available across a number of different Microsoft products. The gift cards purchased in this app are available for purchases through the Xbox One and Xbox 360. Windows and Windows Phone purchases can also be covered by a Microsoft digital gift card. Xbox Music, Xbox Video purchases are possible too. Holiday shoppers should be able to purchase a year of Xbox Live with this gift card, but we haven’t tried that yet, personally.
All of that’s the good news. Until now, the only way to send credit to someone was for users to purchase a pre-paid code from Amazon and then email the code to their family or friend manually. There’s no way to track those kinds of codes, and unless users then called their friends to make sure they received the code it’s possible most would continue on never knowing that their loved one never got their intended gift. Today, there’s no way to send Microsoft Account credit or gift a game to someone through the Xbox Store directly. I’d imagine it’s to prevent Microsoft Accounts from being targeted by those who’d like to hack someone else’s account and gift themselves store credit.
The bad news is that it doesn’t appear as if Microsoft has plans to roll out this new capability to the iPhone, Android or even its own Windows notebooks, desktops, tablets and convertibles. Since going live early this week companion versions have yet to arrive on Android or iPhone. Not being on iPhone makes sense since Apple takes a cut of purchases made through apps. Not being on Android or Windows is strange though. On those two platforms Microsoft wouldn’t be forced to give a third party a cut of sales.
At least for a little while longer, users of these other platforms will have to go the Amazon pre-paid code route or head to their local game retailer to purchase an Xbox Live gift card. Everyone from GameStop, to Target and Wal-Mart has an area dedicated to pre-paid gaming cards. Xbox Live Gift Cards come in $15 and $20 increments. Plus, there are multipacks available for anyone who plans on giving to more than one person. There are 1 month, 3 month and 12 month pre-paid cards for Xbox Live too. A year of Xbox Live, which provides online multiplayer and access to free games, costs $60. A single month of Xbox Live is $10, and three months of Xbox Live is $25.