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 ripped off 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

David Meikleham
Google AMP Stories Editor

David has worked for Future under many guises, including for GamesRadar+ and the Official Xbox Magazine. He is currently the Google Stories Editor for GamesRadar and PC Gamer, which sees him making daily video Stories content for both websites. David also regularly writes features, guides, and reviews for both brands too.