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


Dead by Daylight Mobile Dead by Daylight Mobile
"Certain time-limited game modes sometimes come to the game and you are forced to wait hours or weeks for the mode to open to the public and even then it is for a short time before it is closed again or removed completely."

Single City: Life Metaverse Single City: Life Metaverse
"yes, both in having to send your marches back home from grinding. And regular free rewards."

WWE Champions 2019 WWE Champions 2019
"Limited times energy for certain modes."

K-Sniper Challenge 3D K-Sniper Challenge 3D
"I want to play that game"

The Tribez: Build a Village The Tribez: Build a Village
"Example - Submarine. You have a limited ammouunt of time to complete 10 immersion, but after each immersion you have to wait 1 hour."

The Walking Dead: Survivors The Walking Dead: Survivors
"With refillable energy and timed events"

Polysphere Polysphere
"Ads mostly"

Life Makeover Life Makeover
"There is a cooking system that takes two minutes of animation to complete where the player can't do anything but watch"

Purrfect Tale Purrfect Tale
"Yeah- I already talked about that in pay to skip though"

Crush Crush Crush Crush
"You have to wait from as little as minutes to as much as days to complete tasks, earn in-game currency, and to get phone fling responses."