Sega’s arcade game division is being sued for allegations of rigging the Key Master prize machine – the latest in a series of such lawsuits.
Sega is being sued once again for its arcade Key Master machines, this time to the tune of $5 million in damages. Commonly found in arcades, malls, and pizza shops all over the US, these Key Master machines offer up prizes like earbuds, action figures, or video games to players who can fit a special key through a hole over the desired item in a manner not unlike the classic claw machine… or at least, that’s how it’s supposed to go.
Over the years, Key Master owners Sega Amusements and Komuse America have faced numerous claims and lawsuits over how the machine determines who wins a prize. Key Masters is advertised as a game based purely on player skill, but there have been allegations that the machines are rigged to only award a prize at certain intervals, often determined by the number of losses that have been building up to that point.
The most recent plaintiff to file legal action against the makers of the Key Masters is California native Marcelo Muto, as reported by Polygon. Muto’s complaints, which were filed in California court yesterday, state that Sega and Komuse hide the chance-based nature of Key Masters, saying that “nowhere on the Key Master Machine do Defendants inform consumers of the truth: that the machines are rigged so that players can only win prizes at certain times.” This information is instead listed on the game’s manual, as provided alongside Muto’s lawsuit itself, but his lawyers point out that this fails to provide protentional players with the knowledge that Key Masters is based on random chance (and a set number of losses that is pre-programmed by a given machine’s operators) rather than any skill on their part. As such, Muto’s attorneys are requesting that Sega pay $5 million in damages for “misleading consumers” on the nature of the Key Master game.
Key Master has since been pulled from Sega Amusements’s websites and replaced by the similarly functioning Prize Master, which Sega claims is completely skill-based. In fact, Sega has sent out conversion kits to operators to convert the luck-based Key Master machines to more traditionally skill-based Prize Master ones, which Muto’s lawyers say is a direct result of the company realizing that “many areas of the world aren’t able to benefit from this outstanding category [of arcade game] due to local or state regulations prohibiting their operation” – as purely luck-based games are considered in the same category as slot machines in certain states.
So far, Sega has yet to comment on Muto’s allegations, but the fact that this is hardly the first time the company’s faced legal action regarding the Key Master arcade machines is pretty troubling news. Only time will tell what ramifications this latest lawsuit will have on Sega and Komuse America going forward.
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