Bethesda Softworks has a pretty good idea of what it’s doing when it comes to DLC and to prove it, Vice President Pete Hines reveals that after all this time and ridicule, people are still buying horse armor.
“Horse armor.” Two great words that go great together when you’re trying to encapsulate the “sucker born every minute” approach to downloadable content. Released in 2006 for two bucks or 200 Microsoft points, the Horse Armor pack for Oblivion was the subject of much derision because it was, well, armor for your horse: a purely cosmetic upgrade to an optional mount that nobody else in the world would ever see unless you invited them over to look at it. The joke grew so widespread that back in 2009, Bethesda celebrated the third anniversary of its release by cutting the price of every other Oblivion DLC release in half – and doubling the price of Horse Armor.
But maybe the joke’s on us. Bethesda has done very well for itself over the years with downloadable content for Oblivion and the Fallout games, and believe it or not, Horse Armor is a part of that success. “In one respect everything we’ve done has done well, including the much maligned Horse Armor,” Hines told OXM. “I swear to you, I don’t have the report in front of me, but multiple people bought Horse Armor yesterday! For some inexplicable reason. It happened, I promise.”
Hines said that what really matters when it comes to DLC releases, regardless of the price point, is value; if people feel they’re getting a good bang for their buck, they don’t mind forking over some dough. “Really what we try to find the sweet spot for is: what does it cost, what do they get, and – something that’s not often talked about, but that’s important to us – how long will it take us to get it out?” he said.
“Elder Scrolls players are a patient, loyal bunch, as on-going modding of Morrowind reveals, but sooner or later even the most ardent Oblivionite’s attention will drift,” he continued. “We don’t want them having to wait forever to get something, so we try to find the right mix of time and expense and content that works.”