The Daily Grind: What’s the most annoying ‘dark pattern’ in MMO gaming?


I’ve been kind of obsessed with dark patterns – that is, intentionally deceptive or annoying interface design – for kind of a while now, so it’s vindicating to see research on the subject. Last year, researchers from Princeton analyzed 11,000 online shopping sites to identify 15 specific types of dark patterns across 1818 instances they found on those sites. If you’ve ever bought anything online, you’ll recognize them; they’re things like fake countdown clocks to make you think you’re running out of time to buy things or hiding taxes and shipping and other surcharges until you’ve handed over personal info.

You probably know where I’m going with this: Yes, MMOs and other online games use these tricks too. Spamming chat when someone gets a floozle in a lockbox? Social proof. Irritating subs that are hard to cancel? Obstruction. Claiming that you have only 4000 lifetime subs to sell (but magically summoning another 6000 when those sell out)? Scarcity and Low-stock Messages.

Yeah, that last one really happened, right out in broad daylight.

What’s the most annoying “dark pattern” in MMO gaming?

Every morning, the Massively Overpowered writers team up with mascot Mo to ask MMORPG players pointed questions about the massively multiplayer online roleplaying genre. Grab a mug of your preferred beverage and take a stab at answering the question posed in today’s Daily Grind!
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