Playing by Appointment

Being forced to play according to the game's schedule instead of yours.

"Playing by Appointment" means that instead of you deciding when to play, the game decides for you. If you don't play according to the game's schedule you are penalized. This dark pattern can be implemented in different ways.

1) Some games have a competitive leaderboard where you can climb the ranks by beating a player above you and taking their spot. At a certain time during the day, awards are given out based on your rank. Because of this, playing in the minutes leading right up to the "payout time" is necessary to ensure you get a good rank and aren't bumped down at the last minute. Often, the requirement to play at this specific time is not convenient and it can be stressful to a player to be unable to play during this time window.

2) Some games have special events that occur during specific times. If you want to participate in the special event, you must play during this time window. Players who work or travel may be unable to play during these time windows and will miss out and feel stress.

3) Some games use the time of day to change aspects of the game. Maybe certain items can only be collected at night. This forces people to play the game during times when they might not otherwise play.

4) Some games use a mechanic called "Harvesting" which can be implemented in many ways, but in general the player starts an action that will take some long time to complete. The player must return to the game at some specific time in the future to collect the reward. Sometimes, the reward is lost if not collected in time. In a worst case scenario, a player may set an alarm to wake up in the middle of the night just to collect the reward and then go back to sleep. This is related to the Wait To Play dark pattern.

These are the main ways that games use this dark pattern, but there are certainly other ways that games can use appointment times to force people to play the game at times when they may not want to play the game, but do so because otherwise they will miss out or be penalized.


Adopt Me Adopt Me
"special events"

Tiny Tower Tiny Tower
"Especially during events, players now have to log on every hour or two in order not to miss out on prizes that only come once you've collected the others, which only reappear once you've collected those, and have a cap."

Coin Master Coin Master
"People attack your village throughout the day, and after a certain amount of attacks, you lose your protective shields and have to play the game again to get them back."

War and Order War and Order
"Locks certain game modes behind set times"

Merge Witches - Discover Magic Merge Witches - Discover Magic
"Limited time events that can take a hours to complete"

Little Alchemist Little Alchemist
"Research timer is between 2 and 48 hours, you want to start a new research as soon as possible so it can be done earlier. Limited time events that you need to grind a lot to get the good rewards from, but you only have so much energy so you should play as soon as your energy is fully recharged to not waste it. Arena and heroic rewards based on ranking at the end."

Roblox Roblox
"to collect rewards every 24 hours"

Onmyoji Onmyoji
"Events are set to occur at certain times"

Punishing: Gray Raven Punishing: Gray Raven
"Serum (Stamina) regneration of the game will overcap unless you play at two spaced out times of day in 24hrs"

Warhammer 40,000: Tacticus Warhammer 40,000: Tacticus
"everything revolved around time locked tokens/energy. nothing can simply be enjoyed to your content. tournament at odd hours inconvenient for half the worlds timezones"