Downloadable content has gone on a strange journey. Many of us are nostalgic for the bygone times when games were launched in complete states, no extra levels or missions available for download, developers would have to make sure the game was done before it went gold. Now, studios can continue to fix bugs after shipping the game (and even after launch day), and it has become normal for games to supplement the core experience with a host of DLC. But can you believe it’s been ten years since we were outraged by horse armor DLC?
According to Games Industry, it was ten years ago to the day that Bethesda released its horse armor DLC for Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion. Costing $2.50, horse armor did offer a bit of a health buff for your horse, but was primarily a cosmetic upgrade. It caused so much outcry among gamers that is became something of a short hand for superfluous DLC. How dare Bethesda charge $2.50 for a cosmetic customization?
Ten years ago, we could barely wrap our heads around DLC that offered more to a story, or additional characters. And if that content was developed before a game launched? How dare studios do that? Oh how things have changed since then.
Now, seasons passes are announced before games release and we have all grown accustomed to DLC offering a ton of extra content following launch. But that’s not even the most surprising thing; cosmetic upgrades have become the most popular form of DLC. From badges for your CoD soldier to bizarre cars in Rocket League, people not only expect to fork out for cosmetic DLC, they’re are excited about it.
Was Bethesda just ahead of its time with the idea of Horse Armor? Would it be considered okay if released on the current market?
My stance on DLC has changed in the past 10 years. After being adamantly against it, I now have a more accepting view. As long as the core game is good and isn’t stripped of content so that you have to get the DLC, it doesn’t really seem to be a problem for me. If you enjoy the base game and want more, you will probably be willing to pay for DLC that gives more missions, story lines or characters. If you play the base game online with friends and want to customize your character in the same way that you change your own appearance in real life by selecting a specific wardrobe, I have no issue with cosmetic DLC. Personally, I’ve never bought cosmetic DLC, but if other people see value in it, I see no problem with publishers offering it. The issue comes in when the base game isn’t worth the cost – if you can’t even make a game that’s worth the money, how you can charge more for the stuff that would have made it worthwhile?
Has your stance on DLC changed in the past 10 years, or is it all still just horse armor to you?