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


Bloons Pop! Bloons Pop!
"There is a lives system and you have to wait for those to restore if you run out of them."

Overmortal-Idle RPG Overmortal-Idle RPG
"Largely in events or sect tasks"

Rotaeno Rotaeno
"When there is an event, you have some challenge attempt (up to 3 can be stocked, regeneration of 2h30)"

Dragon POW! Dragon POW!
"Adventure and Rift Stamina (used to enter levels) slowly regenerate over time"

Squad Busters Squad Busters
"Chest tickets are given every 3 hours, caps at 3 tickets"

Super Snail Super Snail
"The game is based around waiting for different aspects, this is different then most games though, as you will constantly get speedups so if you use them wisely you wont have many issues with this, but the game is based around taking time and being efficient with your resources, most importantly your time, to pull ahead."

Bistro Heroes Bistro Heroes
"The game uses a stamina system, which although generous, still exists. It also forces you to wait for food to be done which is needed to level up heroes, required to progress through stages. The game also has daily and weekly dungeons that give rewards meant to make you stronger. Needed to get stronger is mandatory, as some levels are straight up impossible otherwise."

Block Jam 3D Block Jam 3D
"If you don't have any hearts left and you don't want to watch any ads to get more hearts, you will have to wait for your hearts to be replenished (25 minutes per heart) or pay for more. Sometimes when the clock ticks over, the player isn't given a new life."

Isekai:Slow Life Isekai:Slow Life
"Most things in-game are based around waiting as it is an idle game, "meant to be played by itself"."

Wuthering Waves Wuthering Waves
"Every collectible replenishes either weekly or every 24 hours"