Downloadable in-game content is a main focus of Microsoft's strategy heading into the next-gen console war. These microtransactions, as they are called, let gamers expand their experience, sometimes for a nominal fee.
Xbox Live Arcade games have been a huge success for Microsoft, as have picture packs and themes for gamers' profiles and Xbox 360 dashboards. However, in-game content hasn't exactly exploded onto Xbox Live Marketplace. Kameo was given a winter-themed costume for $2.50, some free cars are available for Ridge Racer 6, and new content for Perfect Dark Zero and Project Gotham Racing 3 has been announced, but little else has shown up.
Today adds one more to the mix. As promised earlier, horse armor for use in The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion is now available for download. The file adds some protection for characters' mounts, as well as makes them look pimped out like a medieval version of a customized 1975 Impala. The download costs 200 Marketplace points, or $2.50.
Those shocked at the horse armor's sticker price aren't alone. The debate over the pricing of microtransactions has heated up and is in full swing on Internet message boards. While many think that paying for downloadable content is a good idea, gamers are divided by the item's value versus its cost.
Says "Mtpgamer," a GameSpot forum poster, "I agree that small stuff like that SHOULD be free, but in this day and age it's unlikely that we'll get a lot of 'free' content. If you are into the game as much as I am, you're going to shell out the $ for downloads. Microsoft knows this...so the best we can hope for is that it will be free (unlikely) or inexpensive (as is the case here)."
"ReverieDLM" finds the price insulting. "This is not a matter of it being expensive in the grand scheme of things. This is not a matter of it being a requirement to buy. It's a matter of basically spitting in the consumer's collective face. Something like horse armor is a trivial addition to the game. Xbox 360 owners already paid more for the game than PC owners, charging [Xbox 360 owners] for something that is then free on the PC is an absolutely disgusting disregard for the consumer. Bethesda should be ashamed of it."