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Here’s what we learned from opening 50 Overwatch PTR loot boxes

Overwatch loot box

Quite some kerfuffle yesterday with Blizzard’s various random systems. Overwatch’s new loot boxes promise “drastically reduced” duplicates and increases in the numbers of currency drops received. How much? We grabbed ten accounts and opened 50 boxes on PTR to find out.

Which of the Overwatch characters are you looking to show up in your loot boxes?

The big two takeaways are duplicates and currency drop rates. On duplicates, we found none at all, in 50 boxes. Some of the accounts they were opened on were quite low level, but we would expect most of those to have some duplicates in those five boxes. But there wasn’t a single one, leading us to believe that Blizzard have shortcutted ‘you won’t get any duplicates until you run out of new items to get in that rarity’ to the “drastically reduced” quote we’ve all heard.

On currencies, we saw 14 opened across 50 boxes, meaning around a 25-30% drop rate, we suspect. Six were epic and eight were rare (no legendary coin drops) and they had the same values as always, so no increase there. According to old data from our own findings (on page three of this article) and Reddit, this is a roughly 20% increase from the old numbers of just under 10%.

With the reduction in the feel bads from dupes, these seem like great changes. The only possible downside is you’ll be getting less rare, epic, and legendary skin drops now in total, even if you have far more non-duplicate ones, because of the increase in currency drops. The algorithm may be tweaked slightly before it goes live, and at that time we can also investigate any possible changes to pity timers.

Overwatch loot box

Update May 25, 2017:Overwatch’s Anniversary event is live and the loot is harder to get than ever, thanks to the rarity of each of the 11 Legendary skins.

If you’ve seen the Anniversary skins you’ll know they’re amazing. You’ll probably want them all. The thing is, if you’re not willing to spend some cash, there’s very little chance you’ll earn them normally.

According to some calculations from Forbes, based on the loot box odds that came out of China recently (see the story below), it would take you 267 hours to get them all. And that’s assuming you don’t get duplicates, which you will. You’re looking at about 50% of your Legendary drops being duplicates, in fact.

That means you’d have to spend well over half of every single day playing in the event – it’s only on for three weeks, after all. Good luck with that.

Update May 5, 2017:Overwatch’s loot box odds in China have already been released.

As you’ll know if you’ve been following this story, new Chinese laws were going to force all publishers to disclose loot box odds in their games by May 1. We were all looking forward to when that’d happen for Overwatch, but amusingly, it actually happened a while ago.

It occurred over a month ago, on March 23, when this article appeared on Blizzard China. Once again the accuracy of Google Translate is a devious mystery, but fortunately numbers are international.

  • Every loot box will contain an item of “excellent” or higher quality – that’s rare (or blue), to you and I.
  • On average, you’ll get an epic (purple) item every 5.5 boxes.
  • On average, you’ll get a legendary (gold) item every 13.5 boxes.

In percentages per box, that’s:

  • Rare: 100%
  • Epic: 18.2%
  • Legendary: 7.4%

Note that these are the odds for Overwatch in China and so they might not necessarily hold internationally.

There’s no mention of a ‘pity timer’, which would raise the drop rate for higher-quality items if you’ve gone a while without one. It’s commonly thought to exist in Overwatch, however – you can read more on page three of this article.

If you’re curious about the loot box odds in Hearthstone or Heroes of the Storm, click here.

Update April 24, 2017:Reddit have worked out the number of loot boxes needed to unlock every item in Overwatch, based on an estimate of their drop rates.

A few hard-working Redditors have calculated the average number of Overwatch loot boxes you’ll need to unlock every item currently available in the game. Including the Uprising event, the number is 1,465 (excluding the event, it’s 1,250). Put into hard cash, that’ll cost you $1,172, or £967.

The work was done by mynameismunka in this post on Reddit, which builds on the work of The_Tastiest_Tuna in this earlier post, which in turn builds on this post by ourobouros. Ourobouros estimated the drop rate (from a sample of 1,028 boxes), Tuna added some clever maths to account for the credit value of each box and thus estimate the total number of boxes needed to unlock every item, and munka updated Tuna’s findings for the Uprising event.

A few caveats: since player icons can’t be bought, munka excluded them from his calculations. Pre-order items and Blizzcon items were ignored for the same reason. There’s also no way to account for the effect of the ‘pity timer’, which increases the chance of a valuable drop if you’ve gone a long time without one.

Assuming you’re going for the big 50-box bundle (which offers the best rate), that 1465 divided by 50 works out at 29.3 bundles, each costing $39.99. Multiplying 29.3 by 39.99 returns the final number of 1,171.707, rounding to $1,172. On this side of the pond, 50 boxes cost £32.99, so the equivalent sums in sterling return a figure of £967 (rounded to the nearest pound).

Note that this figure of 1465 is the average, and assumes average luck – the real number of boxes required could be as low as 1300 or as high as 1600. Check outmunka’s graphs on Imgurto get an idea of the curve.

It’ll be interesting to see how close the community has got to Blizzard’s own odds when, as we expect, they are forced by new Chinese laws to disclose them on May 1.

Turn to page threefor our own grapplings with Overwatch loot box odds across all the game’s main event so far.

Overwatch loot box

Update February 14, 2017:Overwatch’s game director has spoken out against some criticisms of the loot box drop rates for the Year of the Rooster event.

Some fans have been claiming that the drop rate for cosmetics seemed lower in the latest Overwatch event. Kaplan says that’s just not true, however.

“The drop rates for Summer Games, Halloween Terror, Winter Wonderland and Year of the Rooster are all the same,” the director says on the game’s forums.

Previously, our findings – as you can see below – showed different drop rates, but we did measure them over a longer period of time. Mr. Kaplan probably has a much better idea than us, so I’d be inclined to take his word for it.

Update:Due to the release of Overwatch’s Halloween items, we decided to take another look at the new loot boxes to see what had changed. Here are our findings.

Overwatch Halloween loot box opening chances

It’s that time again: maths time. Twice we’ve brought you as much information as we could garner from opening and watching hundreds of Overwatch loot boxes. Now we’re doing it again, this time with the Halloween event boxes. Our broad conclusion is that Blizzard were happy with the droprates and returns during the Summer event, however, there is one area where things seem to have shifted.

Overwatch Halloween loot boxes

Halloween epics and legendaries are rarer than Summer ones

During Summer, we conducted an experiment to figure out the rarity of each event item. We came to the conclusion that Summer legendaries were rarer than normal ones from their respective boxes. With Halloween, it looks like they’re rarer still. Out of 296 Halloween items opened from 250 boxes – almost exactly the same ratio as Summer items – here were our numbers (note that they have been rounded slightly, explaining discrepencies):

  • 129 commons, 43.6% – up 2.2% over Summer
  • 117 rares, 39.5% – up 1.8% over Summer
  • 36 epics, 12.2% – down 3.3% from Summer
  • 14 legendaries, 4.8% – down 0.6% from Summer

While our sample size is not humongous, these swings are significant enough to be worth mentioning. Plus, they sort of make sense – with Halloween items now available for currency, albeit at a vastly increased price over normal ones, making them rarer in boxes isn’t an unfair move to maintain Blizzard’s plan of keeping event items uncommon. This change also means that…

Halloween legendaries appear rougly once every 18 boxes

This is a slight increase over the 16 for summer legendaries, in accordance with the above. It makes Halloween legendaries the rarest in the game, but not on the same scale as their price over normal ones might indicate.

Duplicates are back to a more reasonable rate

In Summer, we noted 24 duplicate items, whereas this time around there were only 13. It’s very possible that the high-duplicate rate during Summer was a bug or poor luck. There have also been far less complaints about duplicates this time around, though that is partly down to coins now actually being useful for acquiring event skins and cosmetics.

Event items per box, overall legendary drop rates, and pity timers did not change

Event items still appear at a rate of roughly 1.2 per box, with 1 guaranteed, and the overall legendary drop rate still seems to be increased from Overwatch’s launch period. Pity timers also didn’t seem to change – ten boxes was still the max we saw between epics, while legendaries capped at 19 but on this sample size it’s difficult to tell if that’s a reduction or simply luck. We’ll be asking at BlizzCon if we can get any more concrete information about Overwatch pity timers.

Overwatch summer skins

Overwatch summer loot box opening chances

With what we know about loot boxes already, and the release of a whole new type of box with theSummer Olympic skins, we decided to do the maths again with new boxes and see how much had changed. Our sample size was only 250, which could lead to some errors, but we think the conclusions are easy to draw. It’s recommended you familiarise yourself with our original data if you haven’t seen it before, which is further down the page or summarised in the video above. Here’s what we found.

Legendary and epic drop chances are higher

Across the videos we watched, it was clear that legendaries and epics dropped more commonly. We saw multiple epics in a box on various occasions, while double legendaries were not as uncommon as we would expect either. Here’s the exact data:

  • Epics appeared about once every three boxes, with an average gap of 2.6. This is a 20% increase over our previous average of 3.3, even if it still works out to about one in three.
  • Legendaries were roughly every sixth box, with an average of 6.2. This is a 40% increase in legendaries from a previous average of one-in-ten.

Summer box pity timers don’t seem to have changed, though the smaller sample size (and continuing mystery surrounding pity timers in Overwatch in general) does make it hard to tell. We saw one epic opened on the tenth box, keeping with that pity timer, but legendaries never stretched beyond the 16th.

It’s worth noting that this is taking into account items as a whole, not just summer items. Here’s that data…

There are about 1.2 summer items per box

You are guaranteed a single summer item in your box, and we saw as many as three in one. Over the course of all our boxes opened, this averaged out to just under 1.2 per box, with 297 opened in all. This makes them slightly less common than rares in ordinary boxes.

We also saw a decrease in coin drops that was roughly equal to this, due to there being no currency drops from the summer item ‘slot.’

Overwatch summer loot boxes

Of summer items dropped, 5.4% are legendary, 15.5% are epic

Here’s the breakdown ofsummer items onlyfrom that total of 297:

  • 123 commons – 41.4%
  • 112 rares – 37.7%
  • 46 epics – 15.5%
  • 16 legendaries – 5.4%

This compares favourably to the opening chances from ordinary boxes, with less commons and more rares, epics, and legendaries per item opened. As shown above, you get 1.2 goes at it per box, so multiply these figures by that for your chance of any individual box having the rarity of item you want.

Summer legendaries appear roughly one per 16 boxes

Using the above data, any summer box has a 6.48% chance to contain a legendary. That’s one every 16 boxes, so while summer boxes are better for legendaries overall, summer legendaries are rarer than normal legendaries were from normal boxes, based on our data.

Your chance of getting a Summer duplicate is quite high

This is a bit more hand-wavy than we’d like, as we weren’t tracking exact duplicate chances in our previous data, however, across the 250 boxes opened we saw 24 duplicate summer drops of epic or legendary rarity, not counting the originals. That’s 8% of the rarer summer items opened becoming currency that then can’t be spent on other summer items. If you add in rare and common drops, it will be even higher.

The reason for this comes down to the size of the pool being drawn from. In a normal loot box, four items are pulled from a pool of 1,333, with one of them having to be rare or higher. For summer items it’s one from a pool of 110. This means in a single box, assuming just one summer item, you are seeing 0.91% of the summer pool, versus 0.3% of the pool in one of the classic boxes.

You need to open 850 summer boxes to get all of the summer items

Again, we aren’t the only ones that have been doing the maths. This data comes fromthis Reddit postand associated video archive. Despite there being a tenth as many items in total, due to credits not being usable on summer items and there not being four per box, almost the same number of boxes are required to unlock everything.

Overwatch’s progression system is simple. Level up, get a loot box, open it for four items of varying rarity. You can also buy the boxes for real money if you wish, and that’s where it gets more complicated.

There are two ways to get the in-game cosmetics you want. Either, you can acquire them directly out of boxes with some luck, or you can gather enough credits to buy them. Credits also come from boxes but are rarer. How often do you get legendaries in Overwatch? How many credits do you get in Overwatch? We’ve done the maths and now believe we can answer these questions, based on 500 crate openings from various sources.

The core of our assumptions for this came from our interview with Jeff Kaplan back in February when he said “there’s no such thing as a random loot system, not at Blizzard.” This was in reference to a question we’d asked him about Hearthstone’s pack-opening mechanics, which guarantee a legendary every 40 packs without one, among other statistics. Kaplan wouldn’t tell us exactly how Overwatch box-opening did or would work come release, but at least implied it would be similar.

By watching 500 boxes opened across various YouTube videos in streaks of at least 50, we’ve managed to come to some conclusions – and here they are.

For anyone not well-versed in Overwatch loot, some basics:

  • Legendary items are the rarest and cost 1000 credits.
  • Epics are slightly easier to get and set you back 250 credits
  • Rares are in every box unless they’re replaced by an epic or a legendary and cost 75 credits
  • Commons are three to a box unless replaced and cost 25 credits

It’s worth noting that when a new hero has been revealed, you might be tempted to grab a bunch of loot boxes, or hold on to any that you earn, in the hope that you’ll get drops for the new character once they’re out. Following the reveal of new hero Ana Amari, Blizzard have released a statement telling people not to waste their time.

“Now that we’ve revealed our upcoming hero, Ana, we know that some of you may want to try to prepare for her arrival either by stocking up on loot boxes or holding off on opening the ones you already have.

“Before you do that, though, please remember the following: loot box contents are generated at the time that they earned or purchased, NOT when they are opened.

“This means that any loot box you earn or purchase now, or at any point before Ana is released, will not have a chance to contain her cosmetic items. Only those loot boxes that are earned or purchased after she is live and playable on your gaming platform will be eligible for her skins, sprays, voice lines, hero emotes, etc. (This is how the system will continue to work for future content updates, too.)”

So just to reiterate:old loot boxes won’t have new items in them, even if you open them after those new items are released.

Overwatch loot infographic

You will never go more than 24 boxes without an Overwatch legendary drop

Across every video we watched, the longest gap between legendaries was 24. On the 25th box a Legendary was opened, be it a skin or credits. We also saw a couple opened in the 24 slot, suggesting that, as with Hearthstone, the chance of opening a legendary scales upwards as it nears the maximum. This is called a pity timer, and the Overwatch pity timer is set at 25.

We also kept track of this for epics, and observed that it was never past the tenth, with several opened in the eight to nine slot.

Since originally writing this article, we’ve had community feedback suggesting the Overwatch pity timer isn’t as hard and fast a rule as in Hearthstone. Multiple people have said they’ve reached levels above 25 and not yet opened legendaries in their boxes. However, we’re yet to hear of someone buying a large number of boxes and going past 25 opened without a legendary. This means there also isn’t any footage of this happening, or at least none that we’ve found.

There are a few theories as to what’s happening. It’s possible the Overwatch pity timer doesn’t exist, or has been modified from the Hearthstone version to not guarantee one at a certain point, just slowly ramp up the chance. It’s also been suggested that the pity timer could only apply to bought boxes, though that seems a lot of effort to go through by Blizzard for no gain, as well as seeming unlikely due to how loot boxes are presented in game – once they’re bought, they’re no different from earned ones.

It could also be higher than 25 and our testing simply didn’t show it, or those claiming they haven’t received legendaries by 25 are mistaken. Hopefully, as more and more boxes are opened, we’ll narrow in on a final answer.

Also of note is that Jeff Kaplan posted on the Overwatch forums that loot crate contents are rolled at time of earning, rather than when they’re actually opened. This means buying a batch of 50 results in 50 rolls at once, while earning them over time means one roll every so often.

A reasonable assumption from this would be that it should be earned boxes, not bought ones, that have a pity timer – as they are able to see what came before, while the group of 50 has no obvious knowledge of what is in each at time of creation. However, not only could this information be accessible by the algorithm under the hood, but the system could use a different algorithm for 50 rolls at once.

This supports the data we’ve seen that only bought boxes, rather than earned ones, come with a pity timer of 25. People are, after all, less likely to be angry about not receiving the highest value from boxes they got ‘for free’ via playtime than ones they spent cold, hard real-world cash on. Again, no final answer yet, but a bought box pity timer is the logical conclusion so far, by our reckoning.

On average, you will get an Overwatch legendary drop every ten boxes

Across 500 boxes, we saw 51 legendary drops, meaning on average every 9.8 boxes, rounded to ten. Obviously, there is some degree of random chance involved, so you could equally go 24 boxes before you hit the aforementioned max, then get two legendaries in a row, or even two in the same box – something we did see happen.

For epics, we saw 151 in 500, making an open rate of approximately one per 3.3 boxes. In small numbers that means every four, but for large openings you’d expect them more often than that – a little less than a third of the boxes you open should contain epics.

There are also about 1.27 rares per box and 2.33 commons, with 634 and 1,164 opened in total respectively. Some raw data on rarities of items opened:

  • 1,164 commons – 58.2% of items, or 2.33 per box.
  • 634 rares – 31.7% of items, or 1.27 per box.
  • 151 epics – 7.55% of items, or 0.30 per box
  • 51 legendaries – 2.55% of items, or 0.10 per box
  • Our numbers are corroborated by a larger sample size of 1,000 conducted by a Redditor.

Overwatch open loot box

You’ll need to open 888 boxes to get every item in the game at launch

We’re not the only ones who have been doing maths, and a lengthy Reddit post lets us know that to get every item in the base game will take 888 boxes opened. This was worked out via some far more advanced number-crunching than we’re capable of fully understanding, but essentially averaged the cost of every item in the game and worked things out from there. It even took into account opening duplicates and credit drops, making 888 a fairly accurate figure.

Here’s what that will cost you, in either time or money, based on some of our own workings out further down:

  • $888 at a dollar per box, the most expensive price.
  • $720 at $40 per 50 boxes, the cheapest price, with 12 ‘wasted’ boxes.
  • 976 hours, 48 minutes of playing solo to get everything.
  • 858 hours, 24 minutes in a group.

The release of new heroes and skins makes this even higher now, though it won’t increase significantly until those counts do.

30% of Overwatch crates contain credits

Across 500 boxes, we saw 150 credit drops from 2000 total items. They broke down like this:

  • 11 legendary credit drops from 51 total legendaries, about 21.6%
  • 51 epic credit drops from 151 total epics, about 33.8%
  • 88 rare credit drops from 634 total rares, about 13.9%
  • 0 common credit drops, as they are not in the game

(NB: A legendary credit drop is worth 500 credits, an epic 150, and a rare 50)

So you should expect every fifth legendary (50 boxes), third epic (10 boxes), and seventh rare to be credits instead of a ‘real’ item, on average, while three of every ten boxes should have some amount of credits. It is also impossible for the only non-common drop in a box to be credits – they always come alongside another rare, epic, or legendary, likely to avoid the feelbads of not getting a good item in your box.

We also looked at the split between item types for epics, but it seemed to be roughly even, with around 33 of each of the other three types across the remaining hundred.

The conversion rate of Overwatch is 35.1 credits (₡) to the US dollar

Here’s the super interesting part. Based on our opening of 500 boxes, we got 150 credit drops across the various rarities. This included 88 rare credit drops at 50₡ each, 51 epic currencies at 150₡ and 11 legendary currencies at 500₡. In total, we saw 17,550₡ in 500 boxes, or 35.1₡ per box.

Boxes sell for a dollar each at their highest price (a bundle of two boxes for $2), making $1 equal to 35.1₡. If you buy 50 boxes at once, this drops to $0.8 per box, meaning $1 equals 43.88₡. We call this the dollar-credit exchange, or DCX, because we’re cool like that. We’re going to use the two-box DCX in the majority of our maths because it’s a bit easier, however, we’ll give 50-box DCX as well where we can.

Now we know that…

Overwatch B.Va screen

A random Overwatch legendary skin is worth $10, a specific one that you want is $29

We already established that, on average, it takes ten boxes to open a legendary. At a dollar each, that’s $10 for a random legendary. Even if you’re hellishly unlucky, it won’t ever cost more than $25.

However, it costs 1000₡ to craft a legendary you actually want. At a DCX of 35.1₡, that takes 28.49 boxes, or 29 given you can’t buy half a box. Therefore, for as long as there is no store to buy them individually with real money, each of the legendary skins you actually want and will use is worth $29. If you buy in bulk at a DCX of 43.88₡, it’s actually around $8 for a random legendary, $23 for one you want. This makes Origins Edition, which gives you five skins for $20 (plus a large number of extras for other Blizzard games) a pretty good deal.

For epics this is $4 for a random one and $7.12, rounded up to $8, for one you want. At bulk DCX, $3.20 gets you a random epic, while you need to spend $5.70 per one you’re specifically after.

What this doesn’t take into account is opening duplicates that are automatically turned into credits. Unlike in Hearthstone you can’t do this manually, so we can’t just convert all the items opened into their credit equivalent. It would also take an extraordinarily large number of items owned before the credit impact of dupes was significant. However, in truth, the more boxes you’ve opened, you can start decreasing these figures by a small amount.

You make 91 cents an hour playing Overwatch alone, $1.03 in a group

This is a conclusion drawn from experience values, rather than specifically to do with loot boxes. Loot boxes earned one at a time are worth $1. In Overwatch, it takes an increasing amount of XP to level up, maxing out at 22,000 for each level over 23. However, your level rank resets when you reach level 101, dropping the required total back down to the minimum of 1,500 and beginning to climb again. Therefore, the average amount of XP needed to level up is 20,085, based on this chart.

You earn XP in Overwatch four ways – per second playing, earning medals, playing consecutive games, and winning. There is also a 20% bonus for playing in a group, and 1,500 XP given for the first match each day – we’re going to ignore that, as most matches won’t be. This means that for every ten minutes in Overwatch you earn roughly 3,000 XP, 3,600 in a group. This is based on finishing one game per 10 minutes with at least a gold medal, assuming it is a consecutive match and that you win half of the time, plus it’s rounded to a nice even number. This is an estimate as it’s very possible to have a series of short games, therefore giving you more medal and win XP, but that is made up for by loss streaks, games where you do worse, and the fact you aren’t always in a game due to matchmaking.

Therefore, you have to play for about 66 minutes to level up solo, around 58 minutes to level up in a group. Levelling up gets you a box, boxes are worth $1, so you earn (in Overwatch cosmetics) $0.91 or $1.03 per hour you play the game.

Here’s how that converts into actual items, getting you enough boxes to either open one randomly on average, or enough credits to make one you want:

  • A random legendary takes 11 hours to earn solo, 9h36m in a group.
  • A specific legendary takes 31h54m to earn solo, 28h2m in a group.
  • A random epic takes 4h24m to earn solo, 3h52m in a group.
  • A specific epic takes 8h48m to earn solo, 7h44m in a group.
  • You make back the cost of the base game ($39.99) in 46h56m solo, 38h50m in a group.

Before you shout at us: we know that 500 is a relatively small sample size, and the conclusions drawn may be altered somewhat if you worked with ten or 20 times as many box openings. Ok, now shout away…