How Can We Learn From Toreba?

There must be a reason or multiple reasons as to why an online claw machine app (which can be played on browser too) can last for almost 10 years. Toreba embodies a business model and ethos which, I believe, will go a very long way. It has the reach. It is sustainable. It rides on both nostalgia and hype. More importantly, Toreba actually understands how essential it is to care for their customers.

I believe there are a couple of genuine reasons as to why I prefer playing claw machine online than traditional claw machine on-ground. It is more than “Oh, it is so convenient! I can play whenever, wherever!” For what it is worth, online claw machine cannot fully replicate the swinging momentum that traditional claw machine offers. The astounding pleasure we derive from executing a perfect swing motion resulting in a win is arguably equivalent to that tiny smirk on Steph Curry’s face whenever he drains a three-pointer. It is not that difficult and matter of the fact is, we’ve practised it hundreds and thousands of times. But the joy from getting it right over and over again brings us a high higher than cloud nine. Yet, there are still a couple of variables that will make people like me prefer online claw machine more than traditional claw machine.

Often, these variables point at the increasingly draconian measures being imposed by traditional claw machine owners.

Yes, I get it.. I get it. The cost price of inauthentic toys is valued at $1–3 per piece when bought in bulk or even on Carousell at times. It doesn’t matter whether it is a fake Pikachu, Hello Kitty or Sumikkogirashi, the stuff toys are easily accessible from places such as China and Indonesia. As long as customers fail to catch it within a couple of tries, traditional claw machine owners will earn. As someone who grew up deep in the embedded thought that monsters will claw up from underneath my bed only to have my soft toys protect me when I’m snoring away, I can safely assume that I will not collect more than 5 inauthentic toys, purely because they don’t look / feel as good as the authentic ones and I don’t have multiple beds and sofa to form a clan.

In comparison, any and every item caught on Toreba from soft toys, figures to chopsticks are branded and authentic. Even though it costs an average of $2.50 per play on Toreba (assuming that you are not using your free tickets), I am striving to get something that I actually want of the highest quality, versus something that is sub-par and easily replaced. To put it bluntly, the general crowd prefers good quality products over mediocre ones. The magic of good quality products? People typically overestimate its costs and are willing to play more times than its cost price to get it.

Filter “Hello Kitty”, “Doraemon” or “SumikkoGirashi” in Toreba and you will find players who are playing more than 30 times consecutively in hope to get their favourite toy when they can easily use the same amount of money spent to buy the same item three times.

How much are you willing to pay for an inauthentic toy? Scratch that. How much are you willing to play to have a chance to win an inauthentic toy? Let me suck the joy out of claw machine for a bit. An inauthentic weird looking Ebi Furai (Golden Fried Prawn) with a width of 10 cm goes between $6 to $12. In comparison, an authentic Ebi Furai with a width of 45 cm goes between $18 to $22. Given that it costs $1 per play for the weird looking Ebi Furai and $2.50 per play for the authentic Ebi Furai, what would you do?

Unless you’re unreasonably confident or unreasonable in love with the plush, the most logical approach is to buy the authentic Ebi Furai off someone. The reason? Soft toy can be too heavy. Claw strength can be weak. Chute can be too high. No payout. Not lucky. There are too many unknowns to decipher which results in many plays that will eventually lead to expensive plays. Other than the exception that you’ve personally witnessed a winning replay from someone, it is safe to gauge that you know nothing about the setup and settings. It is worthwhile to note that it is a whole different story if you’re interested in the game and is willing to spend days and weeks trying to understand and beat the system.

If no one is playing the traditional claw machine setup in front of you, you will never know its setting unless you are willing to be victimized by it. Simply put, you’ll lose almost all the time. On the bright side, if you win once, you can win over and over again till the claw machine owners decide to ban you for unorthodox reasons or change the settings right before your eyes. This is where Toreba accentuates its virtue of being customer-centric. They actually have a page dedicated to show you Winning Replays of how an item was won in real time by players all over the world. It is akin to bringing a cheat sheet into an exam hall. Want to know whether you can poke your favourite Winnie The Pooh down? Watch the winning replay! Want to know whether you can flip Snoopy out of the playing area and into the chute? Watch the winning replay! Want to know HOW TO WIN? Watch the winning replay!

As a non-premium player, you get 1 free try per day. Nothing more, nothing less. This is where Toreba shines. They can easily come up with a monthly offer of $5 to give you 2 free tickets per play, but no. They go far and beyond. If you’re only slightly interested in the game, there is very little to dispute on whether you should pay $12.99 once in your entire life to be a premium member. The reason? A non-premium member only has 1 ticket per day and do not have the ability to queue. It is like playing Overcooked with one hand. In comparison, a premium member has 2 tickets per day, have the ability to queue and is entitled 2 additional tickets every 10 days. In the same vein, may I just add once again that this privilege does not expire. You will have it forever. What does this translates to? It means you don’t need to have the patience of a saint or the handicap of learned helplessness for someone else to pull your soft toy into a more favourable position, you can simply pull it yourself and catch it eventually. There is less emotional turmoil and psychological strain for a one time payment of $12.99.

In my opinion, it is money well-spent in consideration that many of what we purchase nowadays seems to mimic the initial burst of sweetness of cotton candy only to dissipate into the flavour of guilt and regret soon after.

We’re painfully aware of how expensive and long shipping can be. Unless you can’t wait 7 days to cart out your item (which you can always pay to ship out immediately upon winning), Toreba ships your item to you for free. It comes in a nice wooden box to ensure that everything contained within is well protected. There will be no damage to your figurines and your brand new soft toys are nicely wrapped in better-than-average plastic. More importantly, it shows that they care. They actually care. When it comes to the items in traditional claw machines, it isn’t the case that they’re bad. They’re just not as good as the authentic ones offered by Toreba. It is like receiving a brand new book with its cover fully exposed versus a brand new book with its cover enclosed with plastic. Same item, small gesture, but one definitely feels a lot better than the other. I’ll pick the latter anytime. Sure enough, there will be people who argue the authenticity and immersiveness of the experience in seeing the item roll out into the physical chute and picking it up in real life compared to receiving a parcel only a week later to unbox. Why can’t it be the case that traditional claw machine owners give us a nicely wrapped version of our winnings? Some do, most don’t. I’ll give it a benefit of doubt that some are careless and others care less.

There is a fine line between fishing and doing nothing. We would like to think that we’re fishing, but the truth is we don’t have the line.