Wait To Play

In-game timers that make you arbitrarily wait for something.

A common dark pattern seen in modern mobile games is the timer. Often, you have a certain amount of "energy" that you can use to play the game. When you run out of energy, you can no longer play until this energy replenishes itself. This happens naturally over time, but you may have the opportunity to Pay To Skip the timer and instantly replenish it. When these two patterns are combined, the player has the opportunity to spend an unlimited amount of money on the game just to keep playing through an artificially barrier.

Another common in-game timer is related to "harvesting" or "research". You may send your character off to harvest some resources, but you have to wait an arbitrary amount of time before this task is completed. This forces you to stop playing and wait for the timer to expire. Often there is a way to pay money or watch an advertisement to accelerate or skip the timer.

Games that prevent you from playing them whenever you want are trying to get you to space out your playing throughout the day. This is a much better way for you to develop a habit of playing the game, and also a way to prevent players from reaching the end of a short game or getting burnt out on a repetitive game in a relatively short amount of time.

However it's implemented, the game is creating a negative experience for the player (not being able to play) that results in a positive outcome for the game developer (payment for skipping timers).
Citations and SourcesDark Patterns in the Design of Games


Girls' Frontline Girls' Frontline
"Nearly everything has a construction or upgrade timer."

ISEKAI:Demon Waifu ISEKAI:Demon Waifu
"Timers on each type of event"

Old School RuneScape Old School RuneScape
"Only for a few mechanics like farming, and waiting for these things to progress doesn't stop you from doing anything else while you wait."

Choice of the Vampire Choice of the Vampire
"Though free, replaying the game does make you have to wait for a timer."

Need for Speed No Limits Need for Speed No Limits
"Lots of timers for stuff you need like energy or entering a race multiple times requires hours."

Tiny Tower Tiny Tower
"There are timers you have to wait for as a new floor is constructed."

Delicious World - Cooking Game Delicious World - Cooking Game
"it does"

Word Hop ‏‏‎‎‎‎ ‏‏‎‎‎‎ Word Hop ‏‏‎‎‎‎ ‏‏‎‎‎‎

LEGO® Tower LEGO® Tower
"You have to wait for floors to build."

LEGO® Legacy: Heroes Unboxed LEGO® Legacy: Heroes Unboxed
"You have to wait for certain events to open."