Xbox Live: Wasteful Physical Products

Not pictured: Plastic casing; Shipping

For Xbox360, any online communications beyond buying/downloading digital products requires a subscription to Xbox LIVE. I don’t find this a problem outright (subject for another post). What I do find is the mixed signals in the costs of the subscription. Buying a physical object for the service ends up cheaper than renewing a subscription.

Here’s the costs of a the same product: An Xbox LIVE subscription for 12 months.

  • Buying via
    • $49.95 (automatically applied)
  • Buying via
    • $49.95 (No physical thing; E-mailed code)
    • $39.96 (Physical thing; Free Shipping)

For $10 less, a physical object is being manufactured and shipped to you. Even at having the option to e-mail you the code, it costs more to e-mail a set of numbers and letters.

I don’t expect an abolishment of the physical cards. I don’t expect online retailers not to carry them. What shocks me is that even when offers a non-physical and immediate delivery option, it’s the most expensive option. Can Microsoft, Amazon, and other online retailers work on a less wasteful way of selling this service?

Update (1/26/2012): As reported by Destructoid, it’s still happening.