TAIPEI (Taiwan News) - Claw machine stores have begun sprouting up in Taiwan from last year, sending a disquieting signal to local economists, as most of the stores come at the expense of retailers and jobs. Amid the intense competition to hook customers to play the claw games, some machines promise unimaginable prizes.
The claw game, which usually costs NT$10 to play per time, is a big phenomenon across the country. Here we list five unusual claw game prizes that jumped into media headlines:
Line ID of an attractive woman or a hunk
Inside the claw machines, there are small boxes attached with a photo of a charming woman or attractive man. Each box contains a small piece of paper printed with chat rules, and refund guarantee if winners didn't receive any response from the Line ID owners within 36 hours. However, you need to be very lucky to find such a claw machine, as there are only five across the country.
Popular YouTuber ChanTzu was drawn to the machine and had successfully clawed one. You can see how it goes with his experiment in the video below:
Fake iPhone 7
Some players were drawn to claw machines with iPhone 7 lookalikes and found the trophy is just a cheaper iPhone 7 clone. The box is printed in simplified Chinese characters and concerns the players as they worry about the quality and safety of the phones. A player told SETN that he had clawed two, but one of them doesn't function, and the other with a starting picture shows the words "Honor 7" instead of an Apple Inc. logo.
Live animals - freshwater crayfish
In Tainan, southern Taiwan, a claw machine is transformed into an aquarium of Australian crayfishes. TV footage shows two dozens crayfish jammed into a claw machine. Despite being criticized for abusing animals, the owner claimed in a TV news interview that his claw does not harm the fish. Also, as Taiwan's animal protection law does not regulate invertebrates, such as crayfish, the owner will not face any fine for his crayfish claw machines.
Pastry tongs and plastic bags are offered in the machines, as winners might not want to get hurt by grabbing them with their bare hands.
Fruits, vegetables, and instant noodle packs
In Changhua, a rural county which relies heavily on livestock and agricultural businesses, is said to have some "green" claw machines, which offer greens such as cabbage, spoon cabbage, corn, cucumber, carrot, and lettuce.
The owner told Liberty Times that he is investing in the claw machines for fun and that the idea of green claw machines popped out one day as he found an old woman selling vegetables on the street and wanted to help her. The owner collected the unsold vegetables and fruits from the old lady, so the prizes vary per day.
The good heart of the owner has paid off. The machine has drawn many players who enjoy trying new things or seek fun. Players throw NT$10 coins one by one for the prizes which are available at supermarkets for only one to two NT$10 coins.
Sex toys - vibrator, fake penis
In April, Taipei City Councilor Hung Chien-yi (洪健益) demanded the city government regulate claw machines as some of them are using sex toys as prizes to draw players. Hung indicated that a few sex toys claw machines are placed in Ximending, a popular shopping area among youngsters. The prizes in question include vibrators, fake penises, condoms, and fake female breasts, said Hung, who expressed concern that they will become a loophole as people aged under 18 can access the machines and the sex toy prizes easily as most of the stores are unmanned and run 24 hours a day.
The number of claw game outlets has skyrocketed in recent years. The Ministry of Finance released a report in June, that there are 6,409 registered outlets across the country as of May, 2018, nearly double in two years and fourfold in eight years. In 2010, there were only 1,261 outlets in the country.
The report indicates that 2,037 outlets across the country garnered NT$798 million in the first ten months of 2017, becoming the fourth largest business in the country's entertainment industry, surpassing show biz and box office.