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  • Claw machines are everywhere in Taiwan.

  • From busy streets to corner stores like this one.

  • I used to play these all the time as a teenager.

  • And while I eventually grew out of it, Taiwan ... well ... hasn't.

  • In 2016, there were only about 920 claw machine stores in Taiwan.

  • Today, there are over 6,678 of them across the island.

  • And you can usually find them clustered together in night market corners like this one.

  • Over the years, they've become a popular investment strategy for young people, particularly because of low stagnating wages on the island.

  • (Speaking Mandarin) Why work with claw machines?

  • (Speaking Mandarin) The main hope is that I can make a little more money on top of my day job.

  • (Speaking Mandarin) Because many friends have told me that they can make money, then I wanted to try.

  • Here's how it works:

  • An arcade owner sets up all the infrastructure and buys the machines and security cameras for a grand total of around 30,000 USD.

  • The owner will then rent out each individual claw machine at around 150 USD to 250 USD a month to interested individuals.

  • Pisuy has been obsessively playing claw machines for a year now and recently just got her own.

  • (Speaking Mandarin) The rent for the claw machine is not a problem for me.

  • (Speaking Mandarin) I'll make a little bit of money, about 5000 or 3000 (NTD).

  • (Speaking Mandarin) When I'm playing the claw machine, I'll set a goal for myself.

  • (Speaking Mandarin) For example, that sock, my spending limit is 50 NTD.

  • (Speaking Mandarin) If I have to spend over that, I'll stop playing.

  • (Speaking Mandarin) 50 NTD, two pairs!

  • But experts say that the claw machine craze is a bubble waiting to burst.

  • (Speaking Mandarin) Taiwan has a lot of claw machines because the media keeps on reporting that it's a moneymaker.

  • (Speaking Mandarin) That's why everyone is getting into it.

  • (Speaking Mandarin) But these stores are popping up so quickly, so not every machine is making money.

  • And the market seems to have reached overcapacity.

  • But for Pisuy, it's more than just an investment strategy.

  • (Speaking Mandarin) My day job is pretty tiring.

  • (Speaking Mandarin) Whenever I win something from a claw machine, it brings me a bit of happiness.

  • (Speaking Mandarin) So I believe they are useful this way.

  • So cute!

Claw machines are everywhere in Taiwan.

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Why Taiwan Is Obsessed With Claw Machines

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    Eunice Lin posted on 2020/08/12
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