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.


Examples

Isekai:Slow Life Isekai:Slow Life
"Several instances of evenb is limited to specific hours, the 'Golemore Mines' is the most obvious example of this, limiting you to 12:00-14:00 server time every day to gain specific rewards. And again a similar event 20:00-21:00 server time."

Wuthering Waves Wuthering Waves
"Not times of day, but days of week. Some grindables are only available on specific days of week."

Tribal Wars Tribal Wars
"Time specific events"

Talking Tom Gold Run Talking Tom Gold Run
"collection events where you need to play or watch ads at certain times"

Dragon Raja Dragon Raja
"one of the events is at 3 AM EST. need i say more?"

Beatstar Beatstar
"Weekly events often have short round lengths (about 8-12 hours)"

Beatstar - Touch Your Music Beatstar - Touch Your Music
"Weekly events often have short round lengths (about 8-12 hours)"

Invasion: Modern Empire Invasion: Modern Empire
"every 3 hours is a new solo event. Events like zvz, gvg and kz last for hours and there is no way for the player to schedule them, it is always scheduled by the game"

MONOPOLY GO! MONOPOLY GO!
"Have to wait for dice refills, limited time events, limited time bonuses, league system with progressive rewards but time limited and compels you to buy more dice to win better prices but no way to opt out of these leaderboards"

Bud Farm: Grass Roots Bud Farm: Grass Roots
"daily quest at 10:00, daily reward at 12:00, competitions start at 16:00"