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

WWE SuperCard – Multiplayer Card Battle Game WWE SuperCard – Multiplayer Card Battle Game
"Can buy cards that are quite a bit stronger than normal cards. Some cards can only become a pro from the shop, as the second one is only found there."

Dead by Daylight Mobile Dead by Daylight Mobile
"you can spend money to get special characters that can't be bought with in game currency. those characters have different abilities and perks."

Legend of the phoenix Legend of the phoenix
"The entire game is based on pay to win."

FINAL FANTASY BRAVE EXVIUS FINAL FANTASY BRAVE EXVIUS
"PVP exists in game"

Creatures of Aether Creatures of Aether
"You can buy resources that make it easier to level up your cards and acquire new ones."

ISEKAI:Demon Waifu ISEKAI:Demon Waifu
"Multiple characters with objectively higher stats are locked behind a paywall"

Tap Tap Fish - AbyssRium Tap Tap Fish - AbyssRium
"You can buy special animals regularly that give you boosts and advantages."

Gardenscapes Gardenscapes
"You can purchase boosters and bonuses."

Old School RuneScape Old School RuneScape
"Indirectly through bonds"

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