Conquering The Claw Machine
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Politics and Activism

Conquering The Claw Machine

The odds are stacked.

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Conquering The Claw Machine
Flickr

The Claw Machine.

Source of childhood fantasy and woe. Everyone's fallen prey to its heinous clutches at least once in their life. No trip to Walmart or Chuck E. Cheese was complete without wasting either yours or your parents hard-earned cash.

You know the story all too well.

The presence of a Beanie Baby or stuffed puppy draws you in, and before you even think twice, you pop in two quarter and buckle up for the 20-second ride of your life! You look from the front while your buddy checks your angle from the side. You wait until you're sure you have it and press the little red button of fate. A high-pitched song starts to play while the claw tantalizingly spins, making or breaking your grip on the treasure. The claw finally touches down, and in that moment, you realize that somewhere down the line, you went terribly wrong. The treasure rises maybe an inch, then plummets back into a pile of nothingness, and you are forced to walk away in disappointment.

How? It was almost perfect! You had it! Or did you?

If it really felt like the claw was just too wimpy to pick up your prized possession, than you're probably right. It was.

Claw machines, UFO games, Skill Cranes and the like really don't have much to do with skill. Actually, playing the claw machine is more akin to playing slots in a casino.

Each machine is built to randomize when exactly it pays out (picks up an item). Whether or not the claw actually picks up the item ties into the strength of the claw. What it boils down to is that most of the time the claw is operating with half strength. When the machine decides that it's time to cut a guy a break, it supplies full power to the claw, giving you your best shot to win.

How often it gives full power to the claw machine is determined by how valuable the prizes are. If each stuffed animal or toy is around $5-8, the machine will make sure it doesn't provide full power until it has made back the value of the prize and then some. They are, without a doubt, a clever way for businesses to make a lot of money with absolutely no real effort.

How do I know this? Well, I took it to the source. My best friends work at a movie theater wherein I have been known to frequently partake in the claw. One day I'd lost about $3 to it when I decided to take a break and eat some popcorn. I struck up a conversation with a few other employees about how it worked. I knew about the claw strength being randomized, but learned about how it covers the cost of the items inside and a preset profit margin (in this case 50 percent).

It turns out the cost of owning and operating a claw machine is very low. Paying for the items inside really only happens one or two times a year. The items aren't very expensive in bulk, and most newer models are surprisingly energy-efficient. The idea is simple. Purchase the machine, fill it up every year and watch the quarters fly in in rolls. Easy money.

The Claw Machine is a rigged money-making system for movie theaters and arcades all around the world. It's gambling for kids, but you know what? It's fun. Sure, it can be frustrating, but no more than losing any other game. There's a certain thrill when you watch that claw spin down to hopefully pick up a potential prize. Whether your claw machine memories are good or bad, they're a classic piece of our childhoods, and I hope they stick around for years to come.

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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.
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