There are few things as unreasonably satisfying as opening a loot box in Overwatch. After playing through several rounds or completing a series of tasks, receiving the opportunity to add to one's ever-growing line of alternate character skins, sprays, emblems, etc. is appealing. The visceral thrill of all the lights and sounds that emerge as a box is opened are undeniably euphoric, and according to Blizzard, this is all an intentional part of the game.
Speaking with Kotaku, Overwatch developers Michael Heiberg and Jeremy Craig detailed the design process behind the shooter's Halloween loot boxes and the necessity of making them appear desirable to users. In fact, the team was allegedly ready to go forward with an evil jack-o-lantern design that was loaded with goodies and could be cracked open like a fruit piñata, but the developers realized that a villainous gourd lacked overall appeal. As a result, the pumpkin was tossed in favor of a traditional and cutesy Halloween bucket.
“It looked really cool and hit the Halloween theme well, but it didn’t evoke a feeling of being inviting and desirable,” Heiberg stated. "Instead, we went with more of a jack-o-lantern themed candy bucket that (if you have a sweet tooth like me) definitely hits those notes.”
What's interesting to see is that the design behind the boxes is meant to draw players in. The spectacle itself is the reward, and the contents of the digital crate don't matter nearly as much as the anticipation that accompanies its opening. Heiberg continued, detailing the minute elements that build upon this premise:
“When you start opening a loot box, we want to build anticipation. We do this in a lot of ways — animations, camera work, spinning plates, and sounds. We even build a little anticipation with the glow that emits from a loot box’s cracks before you open it.”
Understandably, this process went through a lot of testing during development, and the team even initially hinted at the rarity of the contents within the loot boxes through lights that were omitted by the reward. This was later taken away, though, as it removed some of the suspense surrounding an unopened box.
“We quickly learned that this was too early, and it killed your anticipation of the box’s contents,” said Heiberg.
As gamers await the next event following Overwatch's most recent "Year of the Rooster" initiative, not to mention the imminent arrival of newcomer Orisa, there are sure to be plenty of additional loot boxes put up for grabs. While opening them, however, perhaps now users will have a little more knowledge behind why they enjoy grinding for aesthetic loot so much.
Overwatch is currently available on PC, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One.