Premium Currency

Exchange rate between real money and in-game currency disguises the real price of items.

One of the most common Monetary Dark Patterns is the use of premium currency. This is when real money is exchanged for in-game currency. It could be gems, tokens, crystals, coins or anything else specific to the game. This in-game currency is then used to purchase items, upgrade weapons or otherwise play the game. Usually, no limits are placed on the amount of premium currency that can be purchased, which can lead to some addicted players spending huge sums of money on the game. In the industry, these types of players are called "Whales" because of their big spending. Historically, less than 2% of a game's players will spend money on a free to play game with premium currency.

There are several reasons why this is a Dark Pattern:

First, the exchange rate between real money and the premium currency often disguises the real price of items that you purchase in the game. This is compounded by the fact that purchasing larger bundles of premium currency often gives you a better exchange rate. Because the true price of the in-game item is disguised by the variable exchange rate, player's aren't as aware of how much they are spending, and end up spending more.

Second, because of another dark pattern called Waste Aversion, people are reluctant to leave a small amount of unspent premium currency. Game developers know this and they often price items in such a way that you will always have some unspent currency. For example, you may only be able to purchase gems in bundles of 1000, but items cost 80 gems inside the game. This means you'll have 40 gems left over and may feel like you need to purchase more gems to try to even it up and get down to zero.

Third, some countries have laws against gambling, which would make it illegal for the game to sell Loot Boxes for real money. Because premium currency isn't real money, game developers can claim that loot boxes aren't gambling and they can get around the laws. Loot boxes are a powerful money-making technique for game, so using an intermediary currency to get around the law allows games to continue to including gambling in their games when they would otherwise be prohibited.


Examples

WWE SuperCard – Multiplayer Card Battle Game WWE SuperCard – Multiplayer Card Battle Game
"Yes, credit packs range from $2 to $100."

Dead by Daylight Mobile Dead by Daylight Mobile
"you can buy Auric Cells, which are bought with real money."

Plants vs. Zombies™ 2 Plants vs. Zombies™ 2
"Gems"

Legend of the phoenix Legend of the phoenix
"Ingots are main in-game currency though there are multiple sub-currencies that further obscure the real-life costs of game resources, including: - EXP - Character EXP (separate) - Fame - Silver - Hunt points - Limited time event points only spendable at that limited time event shop - Wheel points for various wheel events - Brocades"

Plants vs. Zombies™ Plants vs. Zombies™
"Coins."

Girls' Frontline Girls' Frontline
"The game uses gems as the premium currency, which are sold in a variety of amounts. Gems can be earned for free, but only in finite amounts, and very slowly."

ISEKAI:Demon Waifu ISEKAI:Demon Waifu
"Gold and Costume Tickets"

Tap Tap Fish - AbyssRium Tap Tap Fish - AbyssRium
"Real money is converted to pearls"

Gardenscapes Gardenscapes
"Gold coins that can be bought with real money, and during seasonal events garden bucks can be bought for real money too."

Old School RuneScape Old School RuneScape
"Bonds (premium currency) may only be redeemed for membership time. Can be sold to other players for game's base currency (gp)"