If you have a subscription based game the most important things for you to focus on are duration and replay value. Duration is straight forward; you have to provide the user with a sufficient amount of gameplay to require them to devote some time to the game. Replay value is a little more mischievous. Replay value is all about getting users to restart the game to experience something new. I’ve personally encountered a few games that I didn’t even bother finishing for several years because it was so much fun making a new character and exploring new possibilities.
Perhaps one of the greatest tools you have as a programmer trying to get the most replay value out of your game is character customization. Backgrounds, special abilities, with different weapons and tools for each class of character will help you create the best bang for a players buck. If you have five different character classes that is only five different ways of playing the game. However, if you have 5 classes and 5 backgrounds that becomes 25 different ways of playing the game. The more options you give a player the more possible ways of playing out the game there are.
Tech Tree Limitations
Another trick to use is tech tree limitations. I’m sure you’ve played a game where you could only invest in certain branches of a tech tree with the limited ability points you gain from leveling. You could never cover the whole tree in one go, forcing you to create a new character to experiment. This is intentional to spur you to try multiple tech tree schemes in order to maximize your characters effectiveness given a particular situation. You can also cash in on a user willing to pay to change their tech tree mid-way through leveling a character. This option should always be available in the digital store.
My last trick to expand replay value is Easter eggs. Easter eggs are little discoverable quirks in a game that give the user a little laugh or a bonus depending on the type of game. Easter eggs allow veteran players to go through the game over and over again while still discovering new things. I’ll be going over this particular subject in its own article later on, so keep a look out for it!