Clawtastic: A guide to winning at the claw machine

arcade games the claw

It's a familiar scene. You're standing in a dimly lit room, lights flickering around you with buzzers going off. To your left is the brand new Jurassic Park arcade game, to your right, Streetfighter, an old classic. People are winning tickets left right and centre and some lucky souls have even collected enough for a special prize.

But you're not focussing on any of that. Your attention is drawn by the glowing machine with the dangling claw, filled with stuffed animals. It calls to you. It beckons. And yet, you've been burned by it before. Do you dare risk a token on it?

Yes, ladies and gentlemen, we're talking about the good ol' claw machine. Gracing the floors of arcades, cinemas and even the odd fast food joint, the claw machine is a retro gaming staple. Whether they're filled with plushies from the latest new release film (who wouldn't want a cuddly BB-8) or just miscellaneous fluffy toys, these games have an undeniable pull. But how good are your chances of actually getting one of those cuddly critters? 

What are the odds?

As arcade-goers have long suspected, the claw machine has a pressure gauge which controls the strength of the claw's grip, according to Vox. Every so often, the claw will tighten, so a player's chances of winning a toy increase. In addition to this, many machines have regulations as to how often they give out prizes. But how much does this affect your chances of winning?

How can you get that toy?

The truth is that none of this really matters. With the right technique, you can win at the claw machine regardless of claw pressure. In an interview with Mental Floss, Jen Yamato, entertainment reporter for the Daily Beast and claw machine champion, emphasises the importance of choosing a target very carefully.

"[The best option is] sticking out a little bit, isn't being blocked or obstructed by any other prizes, and isn't too close to the side," Yamato explains.

This way, the claw can get around the body of the toy, increasing the likelihood of actually winning. Your chances of pulling out a cramped toy are very slim, so go for machines with loose arrangements.

"An easy tell is when all of the stuffed animals have been front faced and they're packed in like sardines," Yamato says. 

It's also a good idea to choose a prize that isn't too far away from the chute, as the claw will have less distance to travel and the likelihood of dropping the toy is less. As tempting as it may be to go for the cute purple elephant, sometimes you'll just have to settle for your easiest option!

So what are you waiting for? With your newfound claw machine confidence, visit your nearest Playtime Entertainment and get playing!