EA says it "definitely do[es] not want to **** off our fans" by taking Dead Space 3 too far from its horror roots, but at the same time concedes it needs to make the series "more broadly appealing".
Speaking to CVG in a just-published interview, EA Labels president Frank Gibeau said he's confident that new features such as co-op will help the next instalment become "a great game and our biggest Dead Space."
He explained: "What we've tried to do with each instalment is tell a different story about Isaac but at the same time bring in new features and ways to turn the game into a more connected experience.
"... so we embraced [the co-op] idea and we tried to open up the accessibility of the IP a little bit by adding a little bit more action, but not undermining the horror. We can't not be a horror game because that's what Dead Space is."
The exec listed environment and co-op as areas the new game will push, "and at the same time we definitely do not want to **** off our fans by taking it too far from horror," he said.
"We're very self aware of that - we listen to the fans and we hear them. We're going to be releasing more assets over the coming months that show you how deep the horror is. It's definitely not getting away from gore or horror, but at the same time it's opening up to a larger audience by adding some elements."
Gibeau listed Ridley Scott film Prometheus as a particular inspiration for EA, which he says managed to attract a broader appeal thanks to casting and imagery.
"In general we're thinking about how we make this a more broadly appealing franchise, because ultimately you need to get to audience sizes of around five million to really continue to invest in an IP like Dead Space.
"Anything less than that and it becomes quite difficult financially given how expensive it is to make games and market them.
"We feel good about that growth but we have to be very paranoid about making sure we don't change the experience so much that we lose the fanbase."
At its E3 press conference EA confirmed a February 2013 release date for Dead Space 3.