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

Old School RuneScape Old School RuneScape
"Indirectly through bonds"

Need for Speed No Limits Need for Speed No Limits
"Can upgrade car with money."

Head Ball 2 Head Ball 2
"Can buy characters with high stats."

Word Hop ‏‏‎‎‎‎ ‏‏‎‎‎‎ Word Hop ‏‏‎‎‎‎ ‏‏‎‎‎‎
"if you connect to Facebook you receive a coin reward, you can purchase coins , with real money> in-app purchase, you can exchange those for hints and more"

Hay Day Hay Day
"By spending diamonds to speed up your derby tasks quicker, you will be more likely to finish the derby tasks in first place. In addition, you can purchase an additional derby task for more points with diamonds."

LEGO® Legacy: Heroes Unboxed LEGO® Legacy: Heroes Unboxed
"You can purchase character tiles, energy, gear,"

GrandChase GrandChase
"Pet packages mostly"

Lords Mobile: War Kingdom Lords Mobile: War Kingdom
"yes plus there are sellers outside app store - play stores from what people in a guild I was in where discussing, accounts are being sold too"

Dragon Mania Legends Dragon Mania Legends
"Players can purchase some of the most powerful dragons in the game."

Mobile Legends: Bang Bang Mobile Legends: Bang Bang
"Magic Chess Starlight premium membership gives a slight advantage over non-paying players"