Play IRL Arcade Claw Games In Japan With Google’s New Apps

Play IRL Arcade Claw Games In Japan With Google’s New Apps
Photo: Tang Ke/Costfoto/Future Publishing, Getty Images

In a few months, Android users in Japan will be able to try their hand at one of the most iconic and infuriating arcade games of all time: the claw machine.

In a support article spotted by Android Police, Google laid out its plans for a one-year pilot for claw machine apps, which are also known as online crane games, in its Japanese Play Store beginning on July 11 of this year. Online claw machine apps allow users to remotely manoeuvre a real arcade machine set up by an operator in a physical space. Users watch via a live video feed of the crane game on their phone to guide them.

Players who manage to actually win a prize through the crane game app — which, as my younger self would lament, is extremely difficult — can have it directly shipped to their home addresses. There are some caveats, though. According to reviews on these apps in the U.S., which are already available, you sometimes must pay for the app to ship your hard-earned prize in addition to paying to play.

Developers who want to participate in Google’s pilot in Japan must obtain certification from the Japan Online Crane Game Industrialist Association. They must also apply directly with Google and have a Play Developer Account in good standing.

Google has some stipulations on what sorts of prizes online claw machine apps can give out. While there are not many examples of what prizes are acceptable, there is a long list of prizes that are not. They are as follows:

  • NFTs/cryptocurrency or cash equivalents (e.g., gift cards)
  • liquor, smoking, vaping or other tobacco products
  • underwear
  • items intended to be sexually gratifying (e.g., sex toys)
  • dangerous products, including explosives, firearms, ammunition, weapons
  • other products that can cause serious physical harm to others

The prospect of winning a counterfeit NFT or a worthless hype coin is grim, so good on Google’s ban. Good luck to folks in Japan who decide to test their luck. As for users in the U.S., well, do what makes you happy. Just don’t go broke while you do it.