How the mighty have fallen. The console wars between Sega and Nintendo in the 1990s arguably laid the foundations for today's multi-billion dollar gaming industry.
Today, Nintendo is as successful as ever with sales of its Nintendo Switch console breaking records since its release.
The years haven't been quite as kind to Sega. Last week, the company, which no longer produces consoles, had to release an official statement after it was accused of scamming customers with a crane machine at one of its arcades in Japan.
200 attempts at the Sega arcade
It all started when Japanese Twitter user Ogatun posted the following message and photo after calling the police at a Sega arcade. Ogatun had failed at the crane machine 200 times and he was beginning to feel that something wasn't quite right.
全く取れないから警察来ました👮♂️ pic.twitter.com/beEO85HXp1— オガトゥーン (@84848141a) October 8, 2020
The message posted on Twitter, translated by SoraNews 24, says "I couldn’t win at all so now the police are here."
A post soon after said, "Uh, the police are investigating the staff member who still hasn’t won yet."
As per SoraNews24, the staff member was called over by the police to show if he could win at the crane game — no pressure there. Apparently, the staff member tried the game 300 times in front of the police, and couldn't win.
300 tries later
After the 300 unsuccessful attempts, the staff member opened up the crane arcade machine, moved the prizes to an easier location, and was then able to catch one.
It is, of course, not the first time claw machines have been accused of being rigged. In 2015, for example, Vox ran a whole piece on the fact that these machines are programmed to grip objects strongly only part of the time.
The machine's owner can change the strength of the claw before it's used so that it only has a strong grip a fraction of the time that the customer is playing it.
SoraNews24 reports that Ogatun also played the claw machine again with the items in the new position and was able to win too. The police decided to take no action at the time.
However, the damage seems to have been done on social media. Ogatun's tweets gained a lot of attention, with one of many tweeters replying, "that's just a scam," and another writing, "if there’s a way to set the machines to be unwinnable, then the makers are accomplices."
In response to the criticism, Sega's public relations department released this message the following day:
"As a whole, crane games are meant to be enjoyed as a way for customers to try their skill and luck, and played knowing that when they put money in, a prize may not necessarily come out. Of course, we strive to have our staff be aware of customers’ situations, so if something seems off you are welcome to call them over, and have them assist you a little bit. That is a fundamental operation of our company."
There's no update on whether Ogatun was refunded for his first 200 attempts at the machine. We certainly hope he was.
It's always worth noting that the odds are stacked against you with claw machine games. However, no wins in 200 attempts, as in Ogatun's case, was definitely worthy of investigation.
For a more wholesome arcade experience have a look at how to build your own DIY claw machine game — you won't have to feed this one endlessly with coins.