Positive consumer spend growth returned in the mobile app ecosystem in the first half (H1) of 2023, after a slowdown in 2022.

According to data.ai’s latest research, strong growth has returned with $67.5 billion in consumer spend and 76.8 billion app downloads globally in H1 2023 across iOS and Google Play. The research suggests that overall consumer spending climbed 5.3 per cent year-over-year in H1, including 16 per cent growth in apps. The spend in games remained roughly even YoY.

In terms of categories, Games, Entertainment and Social were the largest categories by consumer spend (across iOS and Google Play). The top five games by downloads in H1 2023 were the same as in the second half of 2022, with Subway Surfers and Free Fire leading the way. Some new entrants included Block Blast Adventure Master from Hungry Studio and Attack Hole from Homa.

Another game on the rise in H1 was Gardenscapes, a match-3 title from Playrix. A match-3 game involves matching three items of the same type. After its consumer spending declined during 2021 and 2022, Gardenscapes bounced back in H1 2023. Global consumer spend surpassed $94 million in May 2023. In terms of global consumer spend in H1, the game moved up 11 positions to rank #8, in terms of downloads, it climbed more than 50 spots to rank among the top 10. It joined two other match-3 games among the top 10 by consumer spending (Candy Crush Saga and Royal Match).

The Match genre ranked #3 behind only RPG (role-playing game) and Strategy genres by global consumer spend in H1 2023. RPG also had three games among the top 10 (Genshin Impact, Pokémon GO and Monster Strike). The top mobile games by MAU (monthly active users) were similar to H2 2022, led by Roblox, Free Fire and Candy Crush Saga. The only new entrant to the top 10 was FIFA Soccer, which has maintained momentum built up during the FIFA World Cup in late 2022.