Pay to Play

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Games that require players to pay in some for to play.

People need to have access to games to be able to play them. All games that have to be bought are in a sense Pay to Play, but this pattern specifically looks at game design that require players to pay to play the game rather than own it.


Gambling Games are archetypal examples of games requiring people to pay to play them. Examples include Blackjack, Poker, and Roulette. Pinball Games and later Arcade Games such as Asteroids, Donkey Kong, and Pac-Man later mechanized this.

Some Massively Multiplayer Online Games, e.g. Ultima Online and World of Warcraft, require players to pay monthly subscription fees to continue playing. Others, e.g. Farmville and Candy Crush Saga, don't require players to pay to play directly but does it indirectly by letting them by upgrades and power-ups.

Using the pattern

The easiest solution to designing Pay to Play is of course to demand payment of players. This can either be in a fee to be allowed to start playing, extra costs during gameplay, or a combination. An alternative is Heterogeneous Game Element Ownership, where players in advance need to acquire game elements by paying for them.

Pay to Play can be applied to allow players to get Expansions and well as provide extra Lives so that gameplay can continue even if a Game Over event actually took place. Allowing players to pay for Pick-Ups and Upgrades are indirect ways of creating Pay to Play as players can get stuck and in effect not be able to progress unless they engage in Pay to Play.


Pay to Play provides Purchasable Game Advantages and is the basic mechanism used to create Gambling. It can be required to have funds to support Dedicated Game Facilitators.


Can Instantiate

Dedicated Game Facilitators, Gambling, Purchasable Game Advantages

Can Modulate

Expansions, Game Over, Lives, Pick-Ups, Upgrades

Can Be Instantiated By

Heterogeneous Game Element Ownership, Money

Can Be Modulated By


Possible Closure Effects


Potentially Conflicting With



New pattern created in this wiki.