A different way to win from one of those claw game

I know two people (siblings) who are experts at those claw games. They can look at a claw game, assess the situation, decide whether there is a winnable toy, and if so, drop in their quarter and grab it. I asked the elder sibling how they arrived at this amazing skill.

"As a teenager, I spent something like $20 pumping quarters into one of these machines, and I eventually figured it out."

Or there is the direct approach.

Comments (22)
  1. John says:

    That's not winning – that's cheating.  You've got to put in some money in to call it winning.

  2. Skyborne says:

    Actually, the claw machines can have their difficulty adjusted–even to the point of making it purposefully unwinnable except for 1/X plays.  I looked this up once after making a perfect drop that didn't even come close to getting the toy.

  3. Wouter says:

    Apparently most (all?) of these claw machines have settings to increase or decrease the odds of winning. This can be done by adjusting the strength of the grip or more deviously by fixing the "payout" percentage. Merely spotting a loose toy is not enough to guarantee a win if you don't know the machine.

    Some interesting discussion and video here: http://www.joystiq.com/…/patience-key-to-beating-arcade-crane-games

    Especially this quote is good to keep in mind if you're going to try and game the system:

    "…I use to work for a company that distributed the toys to the people who own the crane games and I can assure you that regardless of how many times it takes to pull that thing out, you are not getting your money's worth."

  4. Vilx- says:

    I once did a google query to find this incident and was shocked at how many UNIQUE incidents it gave me back. Apparently this happens on a regular basis!

    Here's one such query, the first three results (as of this writing) each tell a different and yet a frighteningly similar story: http://www.google.lv/search

  5. Gabe says:

    Vilx: From one of the links in your search: “I guess that’s like the third time it’s happened at the Robinson Mall from what I was told by security guards,”

    Apparently it happens so often that it's only newsworthy if there's no key available and they have to call the fire department, or somebody records it on video.

  6. Jason says:

    At the Bella Bottega QFC – there's a Panda stuff animal on top of the machine.  Why play the machine at all?

  7. David Walker says:

    Trying to comment for the third time:  @Skyborne:  What is a 1/X play?

  8. SimonRev says:

    He means that the machine is rigged so that the claw will only grip properly one in x times (e.g. 1 in 4 or 1 in 12).  Wikipedia (en.wikipedia.org/…/Claw_crane) has a pretty in depth article at the number of ways the game can be rigged.  While I always knew it was rigged, I had never known how badly

  9. Macka says:

    My brother and I have a system, one of us stands on the side and the other at the front, we then direct the controller to move it backward or forwards. It allows us to get the x and y axis pretty well dead on, but even then we sometimes fail to get the prize, most likely due to rigging.

  10. prunoki says:

    I live in Belgium and I saw only claw machines where you always win. You put in your piece and play until you win something.

  11. Skyborne says:

    @David Walker, SimonRev got it–I meant it to be the same as "X%", some arbitrary chance of winning where if you're not lucky, your skill doesn't matter *at all*.

  12. Cheong says:

    In Hong Kong, there's some shop offering if you pay a fixed amount, the shopkeeper can open the machine and let you choose the doll to get directly… apparently not every people are patient enough to play the claw game. :P

  13. Worf says:

    August 7, 2008 the article is from. Direct confirmation that Raymond's queue is just over 1 month and a week short of 3 full years!

  14. Will Watts says:

    That film inspired Father Ted writer Graham Linehan to create a fine episode of his TV sitcom The IT Crowd, in which unter geek Moss performs the same manoeuvre in pursuit of an iPhone: whythatsdelightful.wordpress.com/…/3007

  15. Cloud says:

    My little brother wasted a whole bunch of cash trying to 'win' a finding nemo plush from one of these. After he had given up and we were about to leave, we noticed the tech come to refill the prizes in the machine, so my dad just paid him for the plush.

    Probably the most expensive cheap toy I've ever seen.

  16. Vilx- says:

    @Worf – no it doesn't. Maybe he just found the article last week. Or used web search to find the first related article (which happened to be 3 years old).

  17. Skyborne says:

    @Worf, we already knew this because we see "Commenter J. Random asks…" posts linked back into 2008, such as blogs.msdn.com/…/10164682.aspx .  If Raymond pushes the answer into the queue soon after the question is asked, then the lag between question and answer reveals the approximate queue length.

    It's also been getting longer.  IIRC, posts in '07 answer comments from '05.  This makes "the OLD new thing" extra appropriate as a blog title.

    Of course, all of this assumes "the queue" really exists as such, and Raymond doesn't randomly troll his archives for old comments to respond to.

  18. Aaron says:

    Sliced, the US TV series, showed a Claw Machine being cut in half and showed the air compressor mechanism used to give the 1/X win rate.  The arcade owner could set the potential win rate X to be as long or short as they want.  If you hear the compressor kick in it's a "win" possibility so you'd better get your grab right on that attempt!

  19. David Walker says:

    Ah, thanks for the explanation of a 1/X play.  I never play those games myself, but I have watched people play (and sometimes win something from them).

  20. neostreet says:

    The title of the post has a grammatical error – "claw" should be "claws". It's the first one I've seen in five plus years of reading this blog.

  21. Neil (SM) says:

    @neostreet: "A different way to win from one of those claws game?"  I think you put that S on the wrong word.

  22. neostreet says:

    @Neil, you're quite right. How embarrassing, to have an error in an error notification! Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?

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