Microsoft has officially launched its free Xbox Live Rewards program to give users recognition for their "time and dedication" to Xbox Live.
Upon joining the program, gamers will earn Microsoft Points--Xbox Live's currency--by simply using the service. Those who renew their Xbox Live Gold membership for one year, for example, will earn 200 Microsoft Points. Activating and using Netflix on Xbox Live nets users 100 Microsoft Points. According to Microsoft, users will also receive Points for purchasing "select Xbox Live Marketplace content," but the company didn't say which content applies and how many Points users can earn.
According to Larry Hryb, better known as Major Nelson, Microsoft's Xbox Live director of programming, users will also be able to earn points playing games on Xbox Live.
Microsoft said that the Rewards program is available to those with a free Xbox Live membership, but Gold Members have more opportunities to earn Points.
As users continue to rack up Microsoft Points (they're limited to 15,000 Points earned during a 12-month period), they can use them to buy "content and other cool gear" in the Xbox Live Marketplace, Microsoft said.
Microsoft's decision to launch a rewards program comes on the heels of Sony announcing a similar offering back in October.
The free PlayStation Rewards program offers users the chance to earn prizes by playing games, buying content on the PlayStation Network, and performing other activities. However, rather than earn points, Sony's option places gamers into three reward tiers--Select, Pro, and Legendary--based on their activity. The higher a user gets in those tiers, the better the rewards.
PlayStation Rewards is currently available by invite only to PlayStation Plus and Gamer Advisory Panel members. Sony said when itthat it plans on making it available to the entire PlayStation community next spring.
The Xbox Live Rewards service is available to all Xbox Live users "in the U.S. and U.K. only," Major Nelson reported on his blog.