The claw machine – a classic arcade challenge


Summary :


One of the most popular forms of carnival amusement and arcade game is the claw machine. Easier said than done, claw machines are some of the most challenging and rewarding arcade games out there.


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? The five best aspects of claw machines.

? What, exactly, determines the kind of prizes a claw machine has?

? Ten suggestions for picking the claw machine right for you



One of the most popular forms of carnival amusement and arcade game is the claw machine. You probably know what we’re talking about before we even describe it. The claw machine involves maneuvering a claw across a playing field and then strategically picking up a prize within the cabinet and getting to the prize doors.


Easier said than done, claw machines are some of the most challenging and rewarding arcade games out there.


Beyond that, there are many different varieties of claw machines as well as a ton of different prizes you can win.

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Before we discuss prizes, we’re going to outline the five best aspects of claw machines:



1. Combines Chance with Skill


One of the best aspects of any claw machine is that it combines chance – such as in gambling – with skill, like as in playing a video game or sport. This unique combination makes it compelling and just a little addicting. But, unlike an electronic game, you aren’t going to be rewarded with a “high score.” You get something much better instead.


2. Awesome Prizes


Points in a claw machine are literal prizes that you can take home with you. If you don’t think that’s better than topping a leader board on an arcade cabinet then we don’t know what is wrong with you. As we will discuss later, the variety of prizes you can get in a claw machine pretty much encompasses anything under the sun though there are variations by country depending on local laws. (for example, you won’t find tobacco products in any US-based claw machine but many East Asian claw game machines offer this prize).


3. Tons of Variety


Claw machines come in many shapes, sizes, and styles. This means that once you’ve mastered one style you will invariably be able to find another style to start playing. And when we say variety, we mean variety. From dual-claw cabinets to having to grab at objects from different angles, the different types of claw machines means you will never have the chance to get bored.


4. You Get Better the More You Play


Despite popular misconceptions, you can actually improve your skills at a claw machine. Naturally, the best way to get better is to play more often. Like we said above, there are a lot of different claw machines out there and each one has a different feel but trust us when we say this: You can beat them and become a master player. Just look up any video on YouTube with claw machine and master or winner and you will see what we are talking about when it comes to the skill aspect of the game.


5. Easy to Find


Trying to find a claw machine is not a hard task. In fact, you’ll probably have an easier time finding one of these than you can find a traditional electronic arcade game. From boardwalk venues to carnivals to arcades, plazas, and many more locations, claw machines are the single most ubiquitous coin-op game on the planet.


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Now that we’ve gotten some of the best aspects of playing a claw machine out of the way we can focus on how claw machines are different by country or region.


Basically, there are no rules as to what can and cannot be a prize in a claw machine. This versatility is what makes them so popular with attractions and business owners that are looking to make some extra money on the side.


But there are some restrictions when it comes to prizes if laws prohibit the prize or restrict it based on age. Because anyone of any age can play a claw machine, anyone can theoretically win the prizes inside. That’s why in regions of the world where tobacco and alcohol are restricted you won’t see those as prizes in a claw machine. Of course, there might be some options depending on where the claw machine is located, but, for the most part, prizes aren’t going to violate local laws.


Common prizes in the United States and the West include items such as stuffed animals, electronic devices, cellphones, and even money.


In regions of East Asia, it is not abnormal to see tobacco or toys, games, and many of the same items as in the West.


One big distinguishing factor between the two regions is that claw machines in East Asia tend to be way more complex than those found in the West. What that means in practice is that the prizes are often a lot better as well.


What, exactly, determines the kind of prizes a claw machine has? Look no further than how much it costs to play the claw machine.


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Typically, lower priced claw machines offer the lowest tier of prizes for their players. These can include cheap toys and stuffed animals or other low-priced items. Expensive claw machines, on the other hand, can have some of the most expensive prizes out there. Don’t be surprised if you’re fishing for a smartphone at $5 or more a pop.


Some of the most popular claw machines in Japan offer figurines and anime or manga-inspired collectible items as the prizes. In fact, many of Japan’s most popular claw machines are driven by collectors who need to “catch them all.” Here, the claw machine mechanics in Japan are similar to the gatcha games that are also very popular there.


Gatcha games comes from the sound of the turning mechanical wheel that vends a plastic ball with an item inside to the user. Like claw machines, gatcha games range in price but tend to hew closely to a few types of items – all of which tend to be small – that are collectible.


From promoting a new video game, show, manga, or movie to iterative releases of classic lines, gatcha prizes emphasize collecting and are purely based upon chance. There’s no skill required in a gatcha game, but in a claw machine you can turn the tables and use your skill to get what you want.

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Given all of the different varieties of claw games and all the different prizes out there, what are some things to look out for when you’re playing a claw machine? Here are ten suggestions for picking the claw machine right for you



1. Look at the Prizes

Probably one of the most important things to consider when choosing a claw machine is what kinds of prizes are on offer in each game. Pick the one that you like the best and give it a shot!


2. Look at the Price

Aside from prizes, you should probably also look at the prices of the claw machines to help you decide upon which one you want to play. If price isn’t important then it doesn’t matter but if you plan on playing for a while you need to check out the prices.


3. Try Out Different Claw machines

There’s no better way to take advantage of a selection of items than to sample each one out first.


4. Stick with One You Like

After trying out the claw machines, pick one that you like and stick with it. It’s the only way you can get better – and hopefully win a prize!


5. Pick One with Tons of Stuff in It

Aside from the first four suggestions, you should also pick a claw machine that has a ton of stuff in it. This will make it easier to win prizes as well as uncover new prizes while you play.


6. Pick One with Good Lighting

You want to see what you’re doing, right? That means you should pick a claw machine with good lighting/


7. Play a Claw machine in a Public Place

Just in case you need help and something goes wrong with the game.


8. Play for Prizes for Someone Else

Nothing motivates someone more than trying to win a cool prize for someone else. If you can’t find something you like, play for something for someone else instead.


9. Pick One That Makes It Fun to Play

Lights and sounds help make a claw machine that much more fun to play. Look for a game that lights up when you interact with it and buzzes and beeps as well. It just adds so much to the atmosphere.


10. Pick One You Can Afford If You Want to Play for a Long Time

If you’re planning on a long gaming session then you need to pick a claw machine you can afford.


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