Epic has described the exclusive items unlocked by playing the Gears of War 3 multiplayer beta as "carrots" designed to entice gamers to play it long enough for the development team to gain proper feedback.
Players will receive unlockables including a Beta Tester Medal, Thrasball Cole playable character and a Gold-Plater Retro Lancer by playing many matches in the beta.
The medal is awarded for completing one match in the beta. You get Thrasball Cole character variant for playing 50 matches, but to unlock him for use in the main game you need to play 10 matches as him during the beta. And the exclusive Gold-Plated Retro Lancer skin, which Epic says allows gamers to show their "ultimate Gears of War fandom", is unlocked after completion of 90 matches in the beta. To unlock it in the full game, you need to score 100 kills with it.
These items appeal to a player's ego, executive producer of the Gears of War franchise Rod Fergusson told Eurogamer.
"There are different ways you can deal with sustainability and getting people to play through longer," Fergusson said. "But you have to look at what knobs we have to turn and what tools we have.
"We found with the Golden Lancer and the Golden Hammerburst from Gears 2, these were prestige items people wanted to show off, like, oh I got the LC, or I was at the midnight launch.
"So trying to tie into that ego pride aspect of that prestige and saying, look, don't you want to show off you were part of the beta, that you got an early and exclusive look? Hey, he's Cole Train, WOW, he played 50 matches in the beta, that's awesome. That kind of stuff we're hoping will drive people to play more."
Epic Games hopes the beta unlocks will make players stick around long enough for the team to get meaningful feedback.
"Really what we need to make the most of the beta is data," Fergusson said. "We need to know how hard it is to Active Reload or whether the maps are balanced. The only way we're going to get that is just having people play.
"To play two matches and quit doesn't help us make a better game. It's an incentive."
The beta concludes on 15th May – just four months before Gears of War 3 launches. But Epic said that's plenty of time for the team to make significant gameplay changes based on data received.
"We'll be able to change almost anything," explained Fergusson, "from map layouts to weapon powers, based on what we've seen. It's both a technological beta, and we want to test the servers and the data centres around the world, but also we just want to know, does this gun feel good? Does this map feel good?"
The multiplayer beta contains four maps: Thrashball, Checkout, Old Town and Trenches. To get in, you'll need to pre-order Limited or Epic editions at GAME or Gamestation.
Or you could have bought Epic's Bulletstorm.
Owners of Bulletstorm: Epic Edition get a one-week beta preview period featuring the new Team Deathmatch mode on the four maps beginning 18th April. The full public beta runs from 25th April to 15th May.