Pay Wall

The game becomes impossible to continue playing without payment.

A Pay Wall is a point in the game where you must pay money to continue playing the game. If the game makes this clear ahead of time, then this isn't a Dark Pattern. Perhaps the first 5 levels were a free trial to see if you like the game and then you can purchase the rest. This is essentially the "Shareware" model of game development which is not a dark pattern. A similar practice is Downloadable Content (DLC). With a DLC, you purchase additional content that extends the standard game that you already have. If the DLCs are known ahead of time, this is a clean practice.

It becomes a Dark Pattern when the game doesn't disclose this ahead of time and surprises you with this information after you have been playing for some time. If you have played part of the game already, it may have some endowed value for you, or you may have a partially completed goal that you want to finish. If the game suddenly stops working until you pay to unlock the complete game, you may have a strong incentive to pay. To avoid this dark pattern, games should be up-front about the cost and how much you can pay for free.

A game may also contain a secret hidden Pay Wall. This occurs when the entire game is free, but the difficulty increases steadily until it's nearly impossible to continue without purchasing in-game items or upgrades that make it possible overcome a particularly difficult level or obstacle. The game doesn't directly prompt players for payment, but instead relies on their growing frustration with being unable to beat a level to drive sales of in-app purchases of upgrades.


Examples

RAID: Shadow Legends RAID: Shadow Legends
"This happened as part of the Foli event."

Star Wars™: Galaxy of Heroes Star Wars™: Galaxy of Heroes
"initially, yes. Running out of energy is a limit to PvE"

Walking Dead: Road to Survival Walking Dead: Road to Survival
"If you want to get characters to compete, the only option is to pay."

Roblox Roblox
"Try joining more than five groups at a time (with a single account of course), selling clothing items for virtual money, or being prompted to purchase an in-game item that you can't currently afford. You'll either be prompted to enrol in Premium membership or buy premium currency."

Homescapes Homescapes
"At some point the levels become too difficult to solve without using boosters."

Toon Blast Toon Blast
"At some point the game becomes so difficult that you can't continue without using boosters."

Forgotton Anne Forgotton Anne
"The game comes as a free trial with an in-app purchase to unlock the rest of the game."