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

Honkai Impact 3rd Honkai Impact 3rd
"Premium currencies can be used to easily obtain a maxed-out new battlesuit, its weapon, and its stigmata. All of these are required to stay relevant in the endgame competitive activities."

ANOTHER EDEN ANOTHER EDEN
"Paid premium currency can be used to summon on special banners which can guarantee a rare character, usually from a pool of several. The paid subscription service also gives additional rewards, some which a feasibly unattainable in any meaningful amount as a f2p (light/shadow) points. However, none of this advantage is specifically locked to paying players (apart from maybe large amounts of light/shadow points)."

Beatstar - Touch Your Music Beatstar - Touch Your Music
"You can spend premium currency to continue a failed song."

Mythic Heroes: Idle RPG Mythic Heroes: Idle RPG
"More rolls, more buying power"

Azur Lane Azur Lane
"The PVP aspect of the game is insignificant to the average player- so naturally the p2w aspect affects an very small amount of players. There is no p2w aspect in non-pvp content"

Pokémon UNITE Pokémon UNITE
"Gems can be exchanged immediately for Held Items and Item Enhancers (used for upgrading items). However, most players obtain them through free introductory reward quests (especially three lv.30 upgrades) and do not fully upgrade them as the advantages are modest."

Vampire's Fall: Origins RPG Vampire's Fall: Origins RPG
"you can buy both gold, used to buy better equipment, and bloodstones, used to upgrade them"

Harry Potter: Puzzles & Spells Harry Potter: Puzzles & Spells
"Can purchase power ups and more powerful creatures that help you"

Mech Arena: Robot Showdown Mech Arena: Robot Showdown
"Some mechs and weapons are sold for premium coins. You can also buy your way to better equipment"

MARVEL Future Fight MARVEL Future Fight
"eg paywall-only characters"