Playing by Appointment

Being forced to play according to the game's schedule instead of yours.

"Playing by Appointment" means that instead of you deciding when to play, the game decides for you. If you don't play according to the game's schedule you are penalized. This dark pattern can be implemented in different ways.

1) Some games have a competitive leaderboard where you can climb the ranks by beating a player above you and taking their spot. At a certain time during the day, awards are given out based on your rank. Because of this, playing in the minutes leading right up to the "payout time" is necessary to ensure you get a good rank and aren't bumped down at the last minute. Often, the requirement to play at this specific time is not convenient and it can be stressful to a player to be unable to play during this time window.

2) Some games have special events that occur during specific times. If you want to participate in the special event, you must play during this time window. Players who work or travel may be unable to play during these time windows and will miss out and feel stress.

3) Some games use the time of day to change aspects of the game. Maybe certain items can only be collected at night. This forces people to play the game during times when they might not otherwise play.

4) Some games use a mechanic called "Harvesting" which can be implemented in many ways, but in general the player starts an action that will take some long time to complete. The player must return to the game at some specific time in the future to collect the reward. Sometimes, the reward is lost if not collected in time. In a worst case scenario, a player may set an alarm to wake up in the middle of the night just to collect the reward and then go back to sleep. This is related to the Wait To Play dark pattern.

These are the main ways that games use this dark pattern, but there are certainly other ways that games can use appointment times to force people to play the game at times when they may not want to play the game, but do so because otherwise they will miss out or be penalized.


Examples

Delicious World - Cooking Game Delicious World - Cooking Game
"you have to wait for hats (lives) to refill,"

Hay Day Hay Day
"Bunny derbies require you to be playing the game during certain times of the day for additional rewards."

LEGO® Legacy: Heroes Unboxed LEGO® Legacy: Heroes Unboxed
"You are forced to open the game at various times of the day to claim energy that expires after 2 hours."

GrandChase GrandChase
"Fixed daily hot time slots that increases rewards obtained in adventure dungeons"

Lords Mobile: War Kingdom Lords Mobile: War Kingdom
"shields that expire in 4, 8, 24h and 3d, if you don't renew shield your castle can be attacked and cleared of resources and troops. Resources and heals to troops, walls etc take too long, real money required to speed up process"

Dragon Mania Legends Dragon Mania Legends
"The most egregious example is castle events. In order to progress through each castle level and open chests, the player must collect a type of currency exclusive to the event. To earn said currency, players must complete a set of tasks every 6 hours. In order to have the best chance of winning the prize dragons from the event, players must try to collect as much event currency as possible. This forces players to adjust their real life schedule to be able to play the game every 6 hours."

State of Survival State of Survival
"time-limited quests"

Dead Ahead: Zombie Warfare Dead Ahead: Zombie Warfare
"Energy bar"

Harry Potter: Hogwarts Mystery Harry Potter: Hogwarts Mystery
"Spending energy before (or as soon as) it becomes full"

STAY STAY
"The player must return as soon as possible or face negative consequences in the game"