Oblivion's Horse Armour still sells today

"Much maligned" DLC pack waves long sales tail

Horse Armour. It's perhaps the most infamous example of downloadable content ever coded - and also one of the oldest, pegged onto the end of Bethesda's celebrated The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion in April 2006.

Originally priced at 200 MSP - rather a lot to swallow for what amounted to a single set of threads for your nag - the Horse Armour pack was quickly demonised by critics of newfangled digital distribution markets. So ferocious was the hate, that Horse Armour attained internet meme status.

Imagine our surprise, then, to discover that the pack is still a dollar-spinner today. That's according to company vice-president Pete Hines, speaking to OXM in our latest podcast.

Hines dropped the bomb when asked whether Bethesda had found the "sweet spot" for DLC pricing.

"In one respect everything we've done has done well, including the much maligned horse armour," he said.

"I swear to you I don't have the report in front of me, but multiple people bought horse armour yesterday! For some inexplicable reason. It happened, I promise.

"So that sold, and Shivering Isles sold, and everything we did for Fallout 3 sold, so it's clear to us that what matters most is value - and whether it's value at the 10 dollar or 10 pound price point, or five pounds, or whatever it is, so long as it's good value, people will like it and buy it.

Hines argued that time is as important a factor in the production of DLC as cost and content.

"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?"

Would you really pay 200 MSP for a nag you can't feed without a tin-opener?

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.

"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," Hines concluded, "and what that formula will be down the road, I can't say today for sure."

Hear more from Hines in the podcast itself, available to download from iTunes now. Topics covered include building security into an open world, the centrality of Xbox to Elder Scrolls, and what's new in Skyrim.