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

Two Dots Two Dots
"You can buy all kinds of bonuses that will make the game much easier."

Kingdom Rush Frontiers Kingdom Rush Frontiers
"Money can be spent to purchase gems, which can be then used to purchase consumable powerups."

Kingdom Rush Origins Kingdom Rush Origins
"Money can be spent to purchase gems, which can be then used to purchase consumable powerups."

Kingdom Rush Kingdom Rush
"Money can be spent to purchase gems, which can be then used to purchase consumable powerups."

Bloons TD 6 Bloons TD 6
"Race Passes, bought with real money (and otherwise only obtainable once every 50 days), grant unlimited attempts on race events, granting an advantage over anyone who can only make a limited number of attempts."

Rise of Kingdoms: Lost Crusade Rise of Kingdoms: Lost Crusade
"Protective Shields, Keys to unlock fighters/characters and other stuff."

Little Alchemist Little Alchemist
"Mainly skipping research timers and collecting more cards, but there is a ceiling once you have caught up."

Phase 10: World Tour Phase 10: World Tour
"Spending money on coins gets you better 'luck' in pvp mode."

Immortal Diaries Immortal Diaries
"Contains "VIP" levels based on spending money"

Best Fiends - Puzzle Adventure Best Fiends - Puzzle Adventure
"Epic Fiends are only available by paying for them. They cannot be bought with in-game currency. And a lot of the fiend styles (which come with an attack power boost) can only be paid for and not bought with in-game currency."