The Diablo 3 item hunt is not enough for a sustainable end-game, Blizzard has admitted.
The US developer told Diablo 3 players that it realises there "needs to be something else" to keep players interested.
"And we know it's not there right now," Blizzard community manager Bashiok wrote in a post on Battle.net.
"We recognize that the item hunt is just not enough for a long-term sustainable end-game," he said.
"There are still tons of people playing every day and week, and playing a lot, but eventually they're going to run out of stuff to do (if they haven't already). Killing enemies and finding items is a lot of fun, and we think we have a lot of the systems surrounding that right, or at least on the right path with a few corrections and tweaks.
"But honestly Diablo 3 is not World of Warcraft. We aren't going to be able to pump out tons of new systems and content every couple months. There needs to be something else that keeps people engaged, and we know it's not there right now."
So, what will Blizzard do about Diablo 3's end-game issues?
Bashiok said upcoming patches will add new features for experienced players to sink their teeth into, and teased progression systems - but suggested the latter was a long way off.
"We're working toward 1.0.4, which we're really trying to pack with as many fixes and changes we can to help you guys out (and we'll have a bunch of articles posted with all the details as we get closer), and we're of course working on 1.1 with PvP arenas.
"I think both those patches will do a lot to give people things to do, and get them excited about playing, but they're not going to be a real end-game solution, at least not what we would expect out of a proper end-game. We have some ideas for progression systems, but honestly it's a huge feature if we want to try to do it right, and not something we could envision being possible until well after 1.1 which it itself still a ways out."
Responding to the suggestion that Diablo 3 was released before it was ready, Bashiok insisted Blizzard thought it had done enough to keep players going long-term.
"Hindsight is 20/20 I suppose, but we believed pre-release that the item hunt would be far more sustainable, and would work to be a proper end-game for quite a while," he said. "That didn't turn out to be true, and we recognize that."
And, later, he responded to one concerned fan who suggested that Diablo 3 had seen a sharp drop off in players since its record-breaking launch.
"I don't know that I'm allowed to release specific concurrency numbers, but we have hundreds upon hundreds of thousands playing every night," Bashiok explained.
"Comparing to just normal drop-off post release of a WoW expansion, Diablo 3 has been very solid, and it's not even out in China yet."
He added: "We're talking about concurrency here, not unique players. I think you also overestimate how many people actually play the games they purchase every day, or even every week."