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How the hell was this ever controversial?!

Why it caused such a stink

Ah, God bless Bethesda. Only a fairly inoffensive developer of epic, sprawling RPGs could make the phrase ‘horse armour’ the equivalent of holding up an old woman, stealing her purse and then shaking her down for any excess pennies. But that’s exactly what they did when the makers of The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion decided to charge 200 Microsoft Points for some shiny metal protection for your stolen steed. Oh the humanity! That’s a good couple of quid/dollars right there.


Above: Many fans saw Bethesda charging for horse armour as a crass attempt to pick every last penny from their pockets

Fans of Oblivion and journalists were none too pleased that a feature, which should have been in the original game, was going to cost them actual human coinage if they wanted to make their horse a bit more resistant to death by goblin/and that bit purdier. Horses hadn’t caused this much controversy since Red Rum was frantically whipped into that great glue factory in the sky.

Suffice to say Bethesda effectively became evil incarnate for a brief time on forums. Accused of trying to pump every last red cent out of working Joes for trivial game content, the seemingly innocuous equestrian plating sparked numerous online debates about pricing for DLC.

Why it really wasn’t a big deal

Well, Bethesda weren’t exactly pointing a 38 calibre barrel at our temples to get us to buy this, were they? Nor in a game with almost limitless things to do was being deprived of a new helmet for the clunky-controlling horses perquisite to enjoying Oblivion.


Above: Now 79% more vulnerable to a Goblin garrotting

Quite simply it was an OPTIONAL – that means NON MANDATORY - minimal perk for anyone that wanted a little bit of extra equestrian eye candy. And, two years later, considering how widely accepted paying for DLC has become – we gladly throw moolah at buying new threads for our Sackboys in LBP - the whole horse armour charade makes a storm in a tea cup look like a Tsunami.

Why it caused such a stink

For a company that’s made its living by buying out its competitors and thriving on ruthless business practices, it was hardly surprising when Microsoft announced their New Xbox Experience at last year’s E3, it included <cough> ripped off <cough> the main features from both their rival consoles. Not only did the new interface for Bill’s Box ape the general accessibility of the PS3’s XMB, but it combined it with casual gamer-courting, Mii-aping avatars. Seemingly gormless and acting like little personality vacuums; their creation was seen as a more cynical move than a Janet Jackson Super Bowl nip slip.


Above: A rip-off of Miis? Hell yeah. Offensive? Hardly

Why it really wasn’t a big deal

Against all the odds, the NXE’s avatars were actually decent and the goodwill generated by the interface’s other welcomed features – the clean looks, installing games to your hard drive – meant their launch was met with little fuss. They were also arguably more creative, flexible and rewarding to make than the little Wii people they’d been based on.


Above: GamesRadar = sophisticated satire

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40 comments

  • Twizinator - December 9, 2010 4:50 a.m.

    @ HoraceQS That is his opinion. Sounds like someone cant take sarcasm :P The Xbox is a great console. I haven't bought a PS3 because I don't have the funds, and I do own a Wii. Monster Hunter 3 is great!
  • FanofSaiyan - January 1, 2010 3:31 a.m.

    Bet those Celda haters are rolling in their graves... or there parents basement Lol
  • DryvBy - December 23, 2009 4:40 p.m.

    34 million were wrong with the Wii. The reason this sold: great marketing, and people who foolishly thought Nintendo was going to release great games. That Nintendo stamp of approval is just passed out for the Wii. Have a generic "babyz" game? Sure! That's a great choice for the Wii. I don't even shop for my Wii because of that. Oh, and let's not forget those 'great value' Wii VC games. $5 for Donkey Kong? No thanks.
  • jackthemenace - December 19, 2009 3:07 p.m.

    I'm actually really glad nintendo created the "toon link" style, because, and i know this will get me flamed like hell, i actually prefer the toon style. twilight princess was fantastic, but the grraphics left me feeling more than a little like shutting myself in a dark room and slitting my wrists. also, the wii does, (generally) suck. Don't get me wrong, the wii has had some great games, and again twilight princess was BRILLIANT, but the ratio of wii gems to wii shames is something like 1:372
  • Slapdog - January 19, 2009 6:51 p.m.

    Another citation might help here too: "Sony is in bad shape right now..." Really? Care to cite your source?
  • theguru - January 19, 2009 12:22 a.m.

    "Well, 34 million Wii owners can’t be wrong" you say? I beg to differ. So anoying trying to play anything on it, I'd prefer to to have most of its gmaes on another console, or atleast for the remotes to have a bit of a bigger range!
  • roguedvdrom - January 18, 2009 2:27 a.m.

    Very informative. I agree with all of it except for the wii which i still cant stand although i;ll admit that it was a huge success for nintendo. (noooo, really?) but i friggin LOVED Wind Waker.
  • Rzl - January 18, 2009 2:08 a.m.

    Oh I absolutely think exclusive titles do matter, it was why you bought it in the first place back in the day. I'm not here to debate which system is better, or defend Xbox. I just think so far Xbox beat Sony to the punch. Things like a late launch date, price, and so so line up of games for said launch kinda didn't help it.
  • HoraceQS - January 17, 2009 11:44 p.m.

    "Well, it just seems to me Sony was stagnate and dropped the ball by thinking PS3s were just going to practically sell themselves on the strength of the name alone." Unless you count all the new features like Blu-Ray and Wireless Integration out of the box a new archetecture and free online. Sony clearly tried to do new things with the PS3, I would actually make the argument that they overreached because those features made the console too expensive. "It's good hardware but thats only gonna get you so far if you don't have the games and marketing to support it in my opinion." And here it is, for everyone who says exclusives don't matter and that it's not a big deal when formerly exclusive franchises go multi-platform. Of course they matter.
  • Rzl - January 17, 2009 10:54 p.m.

    Well, it just seems to me Sony was stagnate and dropped the ball by thinking PS3s were just going to practically sell themselves on the strength of the name alone. It's good hardware but thats only gonna get you so far if you don't have the games and marketing to support it in my opinion. I have both systems, and for me there aren't too many games I'm willing to drop 60 bones on for PS3 that I don't already have on 360. It has alot of cool features but you wouldn't know it unless you get it.
  • Rzl - January 17, 2009 12:18 a.m.

    I've been playing games since '84 and I've seen systems come and go. Microsoft isn't going to kill gaming. Sega and Nintendo blew atari out of business in the 80's and were basically running the console market. Sony then seemingly came out of left field with something new and kicked the door in on them in the 90's . Microsoft did it in like 2000. They all had good hardware, good marketing, and good timing in common to make them stand out. In a few years some new system gonna do the same thing. Love it or hate it it's the way it is
  • Slapdog - January 16, 2009 7:42 p.m.

    "first titles" = "first party titles"
  • Slapdog - January 16, 2009 6:27 p.m.

    Is the word "first" really so offensive that people hate anyone who types it? Does it burn when you read it? Or are you just jealous you didn't get it? Did it start as jealousy and grow into "I'm too cool and 'mature' to put that?" Any defense would really only prove my point. Great article. I actually agree with the Microsoft thing. Microsoft has been hostile and killed a lot of software. However, they simply aren't big enough to "kill" Sony, and their involvement will only perpetuate competition leading to an overall better experience for the end-user: you.
  • hectorv1979 - January 16, 2009 3:48 p.m.

    everybody run screaming horace said microsoft is going to destroy the world ahhhh he was right my 360 is turning into a terminator
  • Xplosive59 - January 16, 2009 1:36 p.m.

    @HoraceQS Completely agree with you cause bill gates has done it before. Good Articles this week guys
  • NelosAngelos - January 15, 2009 11:02 p.m.

    Wind Waker was very good, kinda like playing a Saturday morning cartoon (the good ones anyway)
  • phoenix_wings - January 15, 2009 10:08 p.m.

    Haha, fun! I need to be first to compensate for the fact that I have nothing interesting to say or do, and spend all day refreshing the GR page to find new features! The Wii's novelty has pretty much worn off for me, I'm just looking for good games to come out...Same with the DS--especially since every time I walk by the Nintendo section and see more crapware like BABIEZ and the like littering up the shelves. And to be honest, I never played Wind Waker, but I did play Phantom Hourglass. While it did seem like more of a kiddie game, I have to say that I enjoyed Phantom Hourglass more than Twilight Princess, despite how pretty TP looked.
  • nudger - January 15, 2009 9:39 a.m.

    I don't understand why tardos add comments to these features saying things like "first" or "second, good feature", at least offer something like the next two guys have The Zelda controversy I thought was always ridiculous, its my favourite of the series personally (even beating Ocarina of Time!) and I actually enjoyed the sailing, I loved discovering new locations and changing the wind direction tactically to suit my needs. Fantastic game
  • Shellghost - January 15, 2009 5:45 a.m.

    i dont really understand how these Fanboys can get so worked up about a system, or even call themselves gamers if they are going to only touch one brand of a console.
  • Bioshockraptor - January 15, 2009 4:29 a.m.

    second. good feature

Showing 1-20 of 40 comments

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