SEGA sued for ‘rigging’ Key Master vending game

The New York Post is reporting a Manhattan resident has fielded a federal class-action suit against SEGA for over its Key Master vending game.

C. Stuart Brown claims the game is set to give out prizes at “pre-set intervals” and not when a player actually fits a key into the lock, like the game claims. According to SEGA Amusement’s description of the game, “Key Master will test your player’s skills as they try to unlock prizes by putting the key in “just” the right spot!”

Brown said he paid $10 to play the game and successfully inserted the key into the keyhole twice but wasn’t awarded any prizes. In his suit, Brown claimed “Consumers should be told that succeeding at the game does not guarantee winning a prize.”

A few Internet detectives tracked down the game’s manual and have discovered two key settings that prove the game is rigged. The first is called “compulsory upper deviation,” where the default setting is set to 1.6mm. One person believes this means the key will move 1.6mm higher or lower than the player set it to go. The other setting is called “payout rate,” where the default value is one prize per 700 credits. This is exactly what Brown asserts the game is doing in his lawsuit.

Either way, this should serve as a reminder that you shouldn’t trust any sort of slot, crane or vending machine. They’re all rigged, even if they tell you they aren’t. Chances are you’ll lose, even though someone will win every so often. It’s not a game of skill but chance, and chance is not on your side.

Chris Powell

Chris is the editor-in-chief at SEGA Nerds and Mega Visions Magazine. Over the years, he's written for publications like Joystiq, PSP Fanboy, RETRO magazine, among others. Oh yeah, he's also been a diehard SEGA Nerd his entire life.

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  • broizen

    You can see how rigged it is here:

  • Haitani

    I think it’s terrible that you can sue anybody because of the loss of 10 bucks. Get your laws straight! 😀

    • tim

      Actually, its completely fine. If you lie to your customers about the game then you should get sued. If you say that its a game of skill then it should be so and not some slot machine.

      • Haitani

        I am not denying that a business lie should be target of lawsuit, but… 10 dollars? Around here that guy would get his 10 bucks back plus money for additional efforts (sending letters, gasoline costs and so on) and that’s it. 😀

        • TheTruth

          So what it’s only $10 a class-action suit, can be done over a one dollar… And if it’s true they scammed people they SHOULD get sued. .. I too would do it over .25 cent. . And for the record, it’s not always about the money its the principle of it!

    • Ra ek

      He didnt sue Sega for $10 but rather his legal costs were tens of thousands of dollars. He may have created sufficient evidence for $10. Sega deserve to be sued as do operators of unfair arcade gambles.

      • Haitani

        I see it is really hard to discuss this matter when the people live in completely different parts of the world where gambling laws and right of action are so vastly different. 😀 For you it seems to be the most normal thing on the world, but over here this would never have happened. He wouldn’t even had the chance to spend all those thousands of dollars in the first place. I find that pretty interesting actually.

        • coolman

          Stop saying 😀

        • Ra ek

          I would suggest that we’re discussing this quite adequately.

          So the star of this story sued Sega for (as the newspapers put it) $10 in the US. Sega could likewise have been sued in the UK.

          There is an installation manual on the net that describes how a variable offset can be added to the key track for different rows in the keymaster game. I could only find youtube keymaster wins for the bottom ($10 again!) row. It seems perfectly reasonable to arcade proprietor and perhaps but less so, SEGA.

          I learned that it was a waste of time working out how to win prizes from the top row & very probably middle row too & I taught my kids that too. I also verbally taught (from research on the web) my 13 year old how to win the crane claw game. He went out the next morning at the Grand Hyatt, Sand Diego’s arcade room and won a huge teddy bear for $2. That’s more quality education.

          By the way, what did you find interesting?

  • Anthony L.

    Next some lawyer will sue the traveling carnival because the hoops at the basketball shot are bent inwards.

    • tim

      If the game isn’t advertised as just being for fun or being told that it is fair when its not then you should get sued. I guess people don’t care about being scammed or taken advantage of.

    • gabzox

      it’ s not that it’s made harder it litterally will purposely move away so the key “missed” if it’s not due to payout. Or accidently go through but not turn because it thinks it’s supposed to miss

  • Rocco Dinapoli

    if u think u r going to win everytime, dont play its that simple. I have friends who have won the major prizes..

    • Sean123321

      It’s a gambling device though, which is illegal. It has to be strictly skill and no chance..

  • Sean123321

    If there’s a mandatory “no win” period, then it isn’t a game of skill and it’s gambling and shouldn’t be allowed any place a slot machine isn’t allowed. It’s funny because you could make it strictly a game of skill by mandating the key gets to an exact nanometer. Then you won’t get wins very often, still be profitable, and still be legal.

  • Slim

    SEGA’s going downhill and its really Sad

    • osama bin laden

      Sega Sammy has a lot of money. Sega maybe bleeding money buy Sammy will keep it alive

  • BlazeHedgehog

    All of these games are rigged. The claw grabber game? The claw’s grip strength is rigged so that even if you’re dead on with a prize, it won’t grasp tightly enough to get anything except at set intervals.

    Might as well just put the whole industry out of business.

  • James

    Good, They deserve it the bloody thing is so rigged!

  • Nathan Paul Rhoades

    They are not all rigged. They have this dump truck game by us you try to hit a toothpick sized lever to dump the truck and get tickets based on quarters in the back. Me and my friend both nailed one and its completely skill based and operational.

  • Mike Bilili

    the game is rigged its bullshit i spent 8 bucks and got the key through threw the hole twice and its really bullshit i should have a new set of beats head phones

    • But beats really suck.

      • gamerscul9870

        Maybe he likes it or he can sell it.

  • Henry Robidoux

    I can win every time

  • Brendan Sweck

    Don’t worry people. There is a hero among us who knows how to win the game every time. No longer must your children live in fear of losing their hard earned dollars. No longer can shifty arcade managers bilk you of your hard earned money. There is a masked avenger taking to the streets and claiming all of the ipads. He’s not the hero you wanted, but he’s the one you need.

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