Anchoring Tricks

Placing a cheap item next to an expensive item to make it look more affordable.

Anchoring is a very common tactic that retailers use to sway people towards making more expensive purchases.

1) Anchoring - By placing a cheap item next to an expensive item, the cheap items looks more affordable. For example, if you can get a bronze item for $1 and a silver item for $5, many people may purchase the cheapest item. However, if you add a gold item for $50, the middle option (silver) now looks like a good deal and more people may purchase it.

2) False Hierarchy - A game may use layout, size or color to give a more expensive item preference over a cheaper item when in fact the items should be compared side by side.

3) Decoy Effect - Using a decoy item, that is usually more expensive or inferior, to push people towards a specific option. For example, items A and B are available for $1 and $2, but a decoy item C is $3. Item C is inferior to B. This makes B look like a really good deal since you are getting something worth $3 for only $2. Item A becomes less desirable.

4) Discounts for buying bundles or bigger packages of items incentivize people to spend more to get a better deal.

5) Social Proof is when a store promotes an item in way to suggest that more people favor it. This could be as simple as having a "Most Popular" badge on top of the item, or it could say something to the effect of "15 people have purchased this in the last hour". If the game integrates with social media, it could also use your friends to push you towards a more expensive purchase. For example, "John purchased a Gold upgrade today". This normalize spending on the game and makes it feel more acceptable.


Examples

Gems of War - Match 3 RPG Gems of War - Match 3 RPG
"All of the shops use anchoring and even offer a 'daily login' package that gives you more currency for your money if you log in daily to collect it."

Mortal Kombat Mortal Kombat
"Limited time special offers are typically listed first followed by the standard offers which are listed by most to least expensive."

World of Tanks Blitz MMO World of Tanks Blitz MMO
"Yes."

Walking Dead: Road to Survival Walking Dead: Road to Survival
"There is a lot of trash in loot boxes."

Archero Archero
"Welcome bundle."

Hearthstone Hearthstone
"They often have card pack bundles that allow you to get cards for cheaper than the normal purchase cost, but this seems to be done in a fairly non-dark-pattern-y, manipulative way."

Animal Crossing: Pocket Camp Animal Crossing: Pocket Camp
"Limited time deals on premium currency appear with events."

Harry Potter: Wizards Unite Harry Potter: Wizards Unite
"When buying gold, the $20 purchase is animated and bigger than the cheaper options. Also, you get bonus gold for purchasing more."

Star Wars™: Galaxy of Heroes Star Wars™: Galaxy of Heroes
"Crystal packages and bundles are constantly being offered with the more expensive and least valuable purchases being pushed over others."