Pay to Win

A player can spend real money to purchase something that gives them an advantage in the game.

Many games have a system where you can purchase items by using in-game currency. This currency can be earned by performing certain actions, such as grinding and sometimes it can be purchased with real money, which makes it a premium currency. If earning the in-game currency through gameplay is so slow that it's almost impossible to realistically earn enough to buy the necessary items, then spending real money becomes necessary. The players who spend the most will have the biggest advantage and a free-to-play (F2P) player will be at a significant disadvantage.

If you can spend real money to give yourself an advantage over other players, then a game is exhibiting the "Pay to Win" dark pattern. In addition to accelerating the normal earning of in-game currency, you may also be able to purchase a "cheat" or unlock some otherwise unobtainable item that gives you an advantage.

Sometimes games give large incentives to be in the top ranks, but make it impossible to get into the top ranks unless you constantly spend money to purchase the latest items or upgrades. This dark pattern is sometimes called "Monetized Rivalries", and when its combined with another dark pattern, called depreciation, it can setup a player to be constantly needing to spend money to stay ahead of other players.


Examples

Magic: The Gathering - PQ Magic: The Gathering - PQ
"Cards are hard to get in this game"

Zombie Tsunami Zombie Tsunami
"Well you can get higher scores by buying stronger "Pets" but these scores don't matter too much."

Overmortal-Idle RPG Overmortal-Idle RPG
"Through various deal or just buying destium you can get bonuses from select artifacts and/or get more relics and items that provide a great help"

Dragon POW! Dragon POW!
"Game contains leaderboards that can give Whales a very large advantage"

Covet Fashion Covet Fashion
"There is a fashion pass where you can get premium garments, props, and hair accessories. These give an edge in style challenges as well as the garments helping to advance your level."

Idle Angels Idle Angels
"You cannot compete in the leader board for the first six months without spending a few thousand dollars. Carefully planning your upgrades may give you a temporary edge, but nothing permanent. Your server will gradually merge with older servers, putting you at further disadvantages."

Squad Busters Squad Busters
"Gold, which in turn is used to purchase chests and chest tickets, chests give characters and you upgrade these characters which can only be gotten in chests."

Super Snail Super Snail
"This is a LARGELY P2W game, there are multiple items, relics, and overall rewards that can ONLY be accessed through real money. Certain strong items will cost you $100 that many of the strong players have. Spending is also very encouraged to be done frequently as there are perks to spending any money in a certain time frame such as events and so many opt to spend small amounts in constant increments"

Block Jam 3D Block Jam 3D
"If a player purchases one of the upgrade packs that has contains a large amount of coins, power moves and unlimited lives it is almost guaranteed that they will do better than others playing for free."

Revenge of the Queen Revenge of the Queen
"This is true in any server (see the mandatory whale(s)"