I bought the new "Star Wars: The Force Unleashed" add-on mission last night. I feel like I've stepped into a new era of my time as a gamer.
For a moment last night I thought I had just bought my first piece of game-extending DLC. That's not the case. Earlier this year, I bought the add-on pack to the PlayStation Network game "Super Stardust HD."
I hadn't been a fan of "Oblivion," so I never bought that game's DLC. I never got around to buying the bonus mission pack for "Mass Effect." I didn't buy new "Halo" or "Call of Duty" maps. I have downloaded add-on content for "Burnout: Paradise," but that was all free. (In case you're wondering, even though as a reporter I get my disc games for free, I pay for most of the content I download, which primarily consists of XBLA/PSN/WiiWare games)
I see where this is going. I could only say "no" to game-extending so often. The idea of getting more for a game I played and enjoyed is a tough offer to resist. In short order I'll have to decide whether to download new speed trials in "Mirror's Edge," new adventures in "Grand Theft Auto IV" and "Tomb Raider: Underworld," and a series of expansions to "Fallout 3."
While we at Multiplayer report on this add-on content in terms of how it will affect the business of games and the creative opportunities it affords developers, it's dawning on me now that the way I play games may soon change forever. I haven't gone back to games I've finished for a long time. I play a game through and shelve it.
I've kept my favorite games. But I've seldom gone back to them. I chase the novelty of new games, rather than re-exploring old favorites. This is not how I treat favorite movies or music. And now I see that I will be returning to old games that themselves will have something new for me. Old favorites will return to my Xbox and PS3 disc drive. That's an exciting vision of my gaming future. Let's hope this new content is worth it and doesn't feel tacked on, less the director's cut extras that bloat a fine project but instead the return of an old friend with something new to share.
Next: This weekend I will play that "Star Wars" mission. And more "Banjo," which is testing my patience with physics systems in games.