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


Examples

Simon’s Cat Crunch Time - Puzzle Adventure! Simon’s Cat Crunch Time - Puzzle Adventure!
"To go to a new area of the game, you need to either ask friends for keys, buy keys with in-game currency, or pass three levels, but you can only play one level every four hours."

Princess Connect! Re: Dive Princess Connect! Re: Dive
"Stamina limits how many stages you can clear. Battle and Princess Arenas have timout period after each fight. Some in-house furniture has upgrade timers."

SimCity BuildIt SimCity BuildIt
"You can call it "SimCity WaitIt""

Honkai Impact 3rd Honkai Impact 3rd
"There is the usual "Stamina" that encompasses almost the entire game, and the dorm room makes you wait for construction to finish."

Tiny Rails Tiny Rails
"Upgrade timers and some journeys take a long time."

Beatstar - Touch Your Music Beatstar - Touch Your Music
"Playing earns chests (up to three) which take hours to open. When chest slots are full, you must wait, pay, or watch ads to continue playing."

Fer.al Fer.al
"After you buy an upgrade to your house, you must wait a certain amount of time before the upgrade actually takes place."

Pokémon Café Mix Pokémon Café Mix
"Hearts (or Stamina in the Remix update) is the energy mechanic that replenishes every 30 minutes"

Pokémon UNITE Pokémon UNITE
"The game has a relatively low limit of in-game currency that can be obtained for free each week. However, players are not limited by the amount of matches they can play."

Mystic Messenger Mystic Messenger
"you need to wait for the next event to progress the story (or pay premium currency)"