Battlefield 3 boasts a longer unlock tree than Battlefield: Bad Company 2, developer DICE has revealed.
Executive producer Patrick Bach told Rock Paper Shotgun that the studio had underestimated how many unlocks to provide in BC2 and is keen to make amends with this year's release.
"I think the learning we've done is that if you make a good game, people spend a lot of time with it. If you make a great game, they will never leave," he explained.
"I think we maybe miscalculated with, for instance, Battlefield: Bad Company, with a year. It's been out for a year and a half, and we thought people would spend probably half a year playing it and then it would start to trend down. We're actually at the same number of people playing today as we had three months after shipping.
"So of course we miscalculated that, because we thought people would stop playing. And then people rank out and they unlock everything, and they start to feel fatigue for not getting more stuff."
Bach added that it's a difficult balancing act - make the unlock tree too short and players will feel short-changed, but make it too long and they'll lose interest.
"I think the challenge is to figure out how long people will play this game for, and then make sure you have enough stuff to unlock. It's not fun to have to play for ten years to unlock the last thing - that doesn't make the game better, it makes it seem that there's no point to continue. But then again, you still want that carrot dangling in front of you.
"For Battlefield 3, we known that people play even more than Battlefield Bad Company 2, so we're planning for even longer unlocks, a bigger unlock tree."
He went on to offer a little detail on how Battlefield 3's refined unlock system will work.
"So what we're doing, for instance, is deepening the game, but also broadening the game. Depending on your play style, you can actually unlock stuff based on a specific weapon or a specific class, rather than have everyone unlock everything."
Elsewhere in the interview, Bach also spoke up for planning long-term support and regular updates for a game, rather than churning out annual sequels. A thinly-veiled dig at Call of Duty perhaps?
"Maybe you don't have to build the new game, do you? If people like the old one, then keep fixing that one, update it and make it even better," he argued.
"I think sometimes it turns too mechanical when people release new games every year, and just focus on 'how can I sell another copy, another copy, another copy?'
"Of course companies need to make money to survive, but you can actually provide for the title you already have out on the market. You don't have to leave it, just because you've shipped it. You can go back to it and think 'can we add something to this, can we change something, what do people want'
"And then if you keep doing for a longer period of time, why start building something new? Of course you can always plan for the big next step, but if that's in two years, or three years, five years…"