You Were Right All Along – The Claw Machine Is Rigged. The Real Surprise Is Just How Unfair It Is.


Remember the time you spent a ton of quarters trying to get a stuffed animals out of the claw machine only to have it slip from the claw just millimeters from the chute? And then you kicked the machine and stomped off in despair, muttering about how it was rigged?

Well, you were right.

Right about it being rigged, that is, not right for kicking it. Unless, of course, you were really, really annoyed or had spent ten dollars or more in failed claw attempts. Then the kick is pretty sympathetic too.

As Elite Daily reports, a new video from Vox describes how claw machines stack the deck against the player.

The person who programs the machine can set it to make a certain amount of profit based on the value of the prizes inside and how much it costs to play. The machine, tricky cheater that it is, simply tracks how much money has been spent and only allows prizes to be won at a frequency that maintains the profit level.

How? Claw strength. The machine won’t give the claw full power except when it’s ready to dispense a prize. And yes, they do program it in a way that lets the claw go weak after you’ve snagged your plush prize, just to give the impression that the next play might just snag it.

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Of course, they also randomize the “wins” so that they can’t be predicted. In case you weren’t totally frustrated yet.

So if playing the claw machine feels a lot like playing slots, only for a fuzzy elephant instead of a bunch of coins, that’s because that’s exactly what you’re doing.

Take comfort, however, in the knowledge that your claw machine failures have nothing to do with your speed, agility, or gaming prowess. It was just the claw machine messing with your head.

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