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Are the contents of a loot box determined at the time it is awarded or when it is opened?

For example, if you collect multiple loot boxes before a special event but opened them during the special event, would they have the potential of spawning rewards from that event?

  • Seasonal loot boxes containing special and limited time items also have a special look to them separating them from normal loot boxes. So the rewards are determined when you acquire them. – Virusbomb Oct 11 '16 at 19:20
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    @Virusbomb from a programming standpoint, that argument doesn't really hold up; the seasonal loot boxes would just be implemented as a different type of item which pulls from a different drop table, the actual determination of the drop could still be done at any point from when the code was written to when the box is opened. – Walt Oct 11 '16 at 20:52
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From the Overwatch Wiki

Loot Box's contents are generated when players earn or buy them, not when Loot Box is opened[1]. For example, any Loot Box acquired before installing July 19, 2016 patch will not contain any of Ana's items.

You may need to log in to view the link in the quote. Additionally, the Wiki also states that:

Loot Box items are decided once they are obtained, meaning that you cannot save Loot Boxes until new items (highlight intros, skins, etc.) come out, as you will only get what was available at the time.

To summarize, the loot is determined when the box is earned/purchased. This is likely to discourage hording loot boxes until a special event or new items come out and then opening all your loot boxes in hopes of getting a special event item/new item.

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    "This is likely to discourage hoarding loot boxes" - this is exactly why. Blizzard makes a decent amount of money from lootboxes, so it's in their interest to sell more of them during the holidays, and having people stockpile boxes ahead of time undermines that. That's also the reason why they're getting rid of the experience reset when you prestige. – Mage Xy Nov 2 '16 at 19:44
  • This answer (and the source) seems somewhat ambiguous. Is the loot itself predetermined, or is the loot pool predetermined? It seems much easier for Blizzard to maintain several variations of lootbox, one per content release, and applying RNG when they're opened, than maintaining state information on every hoarder's stockpile. – Wazoople Mar 6 '17 at 17:10
  • @Wazoople it might be better to asked that as a separate question. Whenever you get a loot box, the items that are in it are already instantiated. That would suggest that the loot itself is predetermined. Also I don't think Blizzard has to maintain any information. The loot box could just point to an in game asset. Something like lootItemOne = someItemName. That way, when the box is open, the loot that corresponds to the someItemName is simply given to the player. Whatever the exact way they do it - sort of starts to dive into the Game Design and development area, which is off-topic. – Timmy Jim Mar 6 '17 at 17:23

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