Crane games and other prize-fetching arcade cabinets are supposed to be fair, or at least they’re supposed to appear to be fair, even if you can never quite grab exactly what you want. It seems as if one of SEGA’s games was neither, because it has caused the company to be hit with a $5 million lawsuit for being rigged.
The game in question is called Key Master, and the lawsuit accuses the game of intentionally preventing players from winning any prizes. The hook of this one involves a key-shaped arm that players can guide into a keyhole to net a prize, or at least that’s how it’s supposed to work. An undisclosed plaintiff claims the game is set up so players will automatically lose a certain number of times before they can win.
Since Key Master is advertised as a game of skill rather than a game of luck, the plaintiff is accusing SEGA of deception.
The Key Master instruction manual goes into detail regarding how it works. A Compulsory Upper Deviation function ensures that the machine will move between 0.4 and 3.6 millimeters so it won’t fit until it’s ready to, regardless of the skill of the user. The default goes up to 700 failed attempts before unlocking a prize.
You can see a sample of the game in action in this win compilation from Claw Craziness: