To the layman, the phrase “horse armor” may not carry any special meaning, but to gamers, it’s synonymous with being snookered. It refers to a downloadable horse costume for Bethesda’s 2006 hit The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion, and it served no strategic purpose. Horse armor only made your steed look fancier.
The costume’s uselessness became a source of outrage for Oblivion players, but in a new interview with Official Xbox Magazine UK, Bethesda Vice President Pete Hines said that even now, horse armor is a money maker.
“I swear to you I don’t have the report in front of me, but multiple people bought horse armor yesterday!” Hines said.
There’s a bigger point to be made here. Hines was talking about the success of downloadable content for Bethesda, and said that “so long as it’s good value, people will like it and buy it.” Apparently a lot of people thought a plate of false protection for a horse was worth $2.
In a way it’s not much different from the avatar costumes for which Xbox 360 owners and Playstation Home users happily pony up. They don’t serve any purpose but to make the player look good, but that’s something people value. Bethesda figured that out a long time ago.