No you did not read that wrong, “has” not “is”. For those not in the know, POS stands for “point of sale”.
Some time ago, one of the things announced about the 3DS was that it would use actual money instead of points to buy things. This was an improvement as people would see the real price of things instead of a points value, except the conversion was a basic point to cent ratio, 100 points = $1.00; so the extra clarity was moot. The real advantage would be how they could get away from the clumsy pre-paid system and have a proper checkout POS like Amazon or the PSN (when it’s working).
They didn’t do that, I think they made it worse.
The first issue I have is that it’s still works on a pre-paid system, you have to load up your 3DS with money which you then spend later; and like the DSi and Wii, you have to buy them in set blocks; so instead of buying 500/1000/2000/5000 points, you’re buying $5.00/$10.00/$20.00/$50.00. Really, nothing has changed; you’re still going to buy a set amount of “Nintendo Dollars”, and your going to have some leftover, sitting on your 3DS doing nothing. For the extra annoyance, prices follow the old 99¢ routine, so you’ll pretty much never get the amount exactly right.
The second issue is that something DID change, taxes!
Before, you paid taxes when you bought the points, since that would be the only place you actually use $, so it’s the only place for the government to get their cut. In the eShop, you pay the taxes on the actual purchase. This doesn’t sound like a big deal, but it does have an effect because the system is pre-paid.
Let’s say you want to buy something that is 1000 points on DSiWare, to do that, you need to buy a 1000 point card, which costs $10.00 plus tax. (I live in Ontario with 13% HST, ow) So for me, that works out to $11.30. If I bought the same thing on the 3DS, it would cost $9.99 plus tax, or $11.29, but I have to load my money to the system, and so I have to load $10.00 and then another $5.00. So I pay $15.00, and get $3.01 left on the 3DS, whereas on the DSi it works out perfectly.
Now this can work in favor of the other direction. If I wanted something that cost 1200 points (like Shantae: Risky’s Revenge), then I would have to buy 1500 points, which would cost me $16.95; and then I would be left with 300 points on my DSi. For the 3DS, the price is $11.99, with tax that becomes $13.55; I load $15.00, and am left with $1.45 on the 3DS. There is less waste on the 3DS, but I am left with an odd amount of cash on account, whereas I have a more even number on the DS, which makes it easier to find something to spend it on.
The optimal system would have been a checkout POS, where I select what I want, possibly selecting multiple items at once and only paying once; then when I’m ready to buy, I can use my credit card to pay the exact amount I owe, instead of over paying and getting stuck with some weird amount of change that I can’t pocket. Now they’d have to keep the pre-paid system because not everyone has a credit card, but not having the option is a real sticking point.
One size fits all
This is an annoyance I have with Nintendo at times, I remember when they released Donkey Kong Country Returns, and there was no Classic Controller option. Some of the special abilities were tied to shaking the Wiimote, which makes it less responsive and precise than a simple button push; and for a game like DKCR, I want that extra precision. Wario Land: Shate It! and New Super Mario Bros. Wii had the same problem, though they had some places that used the tilt functionality that made some sense; but I wonder if it was added to justify the use of the Wiimote, and that it could’ve been done easily with one of the analog sticks.
I dislike this “one size fits all” approach, as it forces everybody to work within the same constraints, just because not everyone can use a credit card, or has a Classic Controller, but they don’t even give the option for those that do, to use a different (or in these cases better) system.