Even after 15 years, Oblivion’s Horse Armor Pack DLC still receives blame for setting the stage of the current microtransaction-filled industry.
A recent meme has reopened some old wounds for fans of The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion by calling out the infamous horse armor DLC. Released back in 2006, Oblivion‘s Horse Armor Pack was an aesthetic-based add-on that many current gamers blame for starting the now-common practice of microtranstions and subsequently unfinished games.
In 2021, microtransactions are incredibly common across a wide variety of titles and have become a major revenue generating factor for many development companies. The practice has become so widespread and influential in certain games that some countries have started to implement microtransaction legislation regarding the disclosure of in-game purchases to potential players. Back in 2006, however, microtransactions were a novel concept with ample room for developers to explore. While it may not have been the first, Bethesda produced arguably the most well-known piece of – what would later be called – a microtransaction but at the time was just widely considered “bad DLC.”
Reddit user just_hest recently revisited Oblivion‘s Horse Armor Pack in the form of a meme. In the graphic, they continue the argument targeting the add-on content by stating “trends of incomplete games can be traced to one horse DLC.” The controversy surrounding Oblivion‘s Horse Armor Pack has only intensified as the practice of microtransactions became more widespread; and many in the comments of just_hest’s post shared similar frustrations.
Other early microtransaction examples were brought up in the comments as well, particularly revolving around the Day-One DLC for Mass Effect 3. Many situations like this over the past fifteen years have cultivated feelings of anger and distrust whenever extra content is announced for a title, especially if it happens before the debut. In some cases, it has become more noteworthy when a AAA-game does not have any microtransactions.
While there is a legitimate argument that Oblivion’s Horse Armor Pack had some part to play in the rise of microtransactions, it seems somewhat unfair to assign it all the blame. The DLC was purely cosmetic and did not venture into pay-to-win territory that has plagued so many other titles in recent memory, such as the microtransactions in Marvel’s Avengers, which are now gone following fan backlash. Still, there is something to be said that the Oblivion DLC launched just about two weeks after the game’s debut. Unfortunately the problem plaguing the industry does not seem to be going away anytime soon and – until it does – players can continue to put the blame on a “scape-horse.”
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