Mobile Gaming

December 2023: Netflix's Launch of Grand Theft Auto Remastered Editions Dominates December's Mobile App Rankings

Donny Kristianto

Remastered mobile versions of the beloved video game series trigger surge in App Store traffic, fueling December's downloads growth

Each month, the data.ai mobile gaming pulse highlights the top-performing games for the iOS App Store and Google Play. Our analysis covers trends and movement in the top charts among the leading games across countries. It is the industry standard for professionals looking to compare the latest market shifts of leading games and publishers and prepare for the months ahead. 

The December 2023 rankings showed the power of a strong IP married with Netflix’s distribution power as a gaming publisher. The Grand Theft Auto Trilogy dominated the breakout games by downloads charts. However, country-specific preferences emerged with significant shuffles in the breakout downloads and spend charts. Let’s dive in. 

Please note, to bring you the latest data with a true ‘apples-to-apples’ comparison period, we’ll be analyzing the monthly pulse in 4 week segments. 

Top Games by Downloads in December 2023: Which Mobile Games Topped Downloads Charts and Which Games Were the Breakout Stars of the Month? 

We took a look at which games saw the greatest growth in December in our Breakout Games by Downloads charts.

  • Netflix Games rolled out the popular video game series "Grand Theft Auto: The Trilogy — The Definitive Edition" on both App Store and Google Play globally on December 14, 2023 — raking in nearly 22 million downloads collectively in just over 2 weeks. The remastered trilogy, which has been optimized for mobile gameplay, includes three popular titles from the famous franchise — all surged into the top 10 breakout charts. The three games showcase the familiar expansive, free-roaming open-world gameplay inspired by iconic depictions of crime stories in popular culture, set separately in cities resembling Los Angeles, Miami and New York. The order of popularity for the mobile titles also mirrors the number of of copies sold for the console versions:  
    • GTA: San Andreas took the #2 spot for top breakout games by global downloads. Since its launch, the game has been downloaded around 13.6 Million times globally. Downloads covered a vast global footprint including the United States, Brazil, Mexico, India and the United Kingdom. In fact, during this period it topped downloads charts in 6 markets (US, Canada, Chile, Nicaragua, Mauritius, Brunei). 
    • GTA: Vice City took the #6 spot for top breakout games by worldwide downloads securing 4.6 million downloads globally. 
    • GTA III secured 3.7 million downloads in just over 2 weeks, claiming the #10 spot among breakout games for the 4 week period. Unlike the other two games, Brazilians out-performed Americans for this title — occupying the most downloads. 
  • Outlets Rush: Simulation Hypercasual game, Outlets Rush claimed the #1 rank for breakout games and the #5 rank by global games downloads, up 526 places from prior period. The game hails from publisher Supercent, headquartered in South Korea. This is quite unique. Of the top 100 Hypercasual publishers in 2023 by global downloads, only 2 were headquartered in South Korea. Cyprus, the US, Vietnam, France and Japan were the top 5 producers of Hypercasual games — accounting for 67% of global downloads.  While available for downloads in select markets since June, it rolled out globally in September 2023 with downloads surging 3 months later. Cumulative downloads have swelled to over 20 million, with Google Play downloads outnumbering iOS 2 to 1. In fact, during this period it topped downloads charts in 24 individual markets (the UK, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Sweden, Austria, Denmark, Kuwait, Oman, Mongolia, Slovakia, Armenia, Norway, Croatia, Albania, Qatar, Macedonia, Bahrain, Puerto Rico, Iceland, Malta, Suriname, Barbados, Cayman Islands, Bermuda). 

Most Popular Mobile Games by Downloads in December 2023

While the rising stars offer the best view into high growth sectors, top charts showcase current consumer demand. 

In December 2023, Subway Surfers ranked #1 globally — approaching the 2.5 billion download milestone at 2.46 billion downloads to date. Outlets Rush was another standout game at #5 by global downloads. Action Hypercasual title Build A Queen continued to drum up demand, particularly in Brazil, India and Russia) and approached the 50 million milestone, coming in at 49.6 million on Dec 30, 2023. Ice Scream 8: Final Chapter, a Stealth Action title by Keplerians out of Spain was a new release on December 15, 2023 — garnering over 12 million downloads in just 15 days. The game represents the eighth and concluding installment of the renowned Ice Scream Franchise, initially launched in 2019. It has captivated audiences with its unique blend of action-adventure, puzzle-solving, and stealth mechanics — all set within a horror-themed yet cartoonish environment. 

Top Games by App Store Consumer Spend in December 2023: Which Mobile Games Topped Spend Charts and Which Games Were the Breakout Stars of Month?

Similarly to downloads, we took a look at which games saw the greatest growth in December 2023. How did successful launches, monetization mechanics and timely re-engagement campaigns shape our Breakout Games by Consumer Spend charts?

  • Clash of Clans: Strategy game, longtime favorite title Clash of Clans took the #1 spot for top breakout games by global consumer spend, jumping 13 ranks. This was driven by the release of Town Hall 16 Update, which contained updated design elements and playable units influenced by nature theme, as well as numerous rule balance improvements, driving up engagement and demand for Gems IAP Purchases. In its 11th year, the game has done exceedingly well in monetization, where it surpassed $10.3 Billion in consumer spend globally — one of only 4 titles to do so (#1 Candy Crush Saga, #2 Honor of Kings and #3 Monster Strike). For consumer spend, Americans led the charge followed by gamers in Germany, the UK, Japan and China, respectively. The game has a sophisticated monetization strategy. We’ve detected Starter Packs, Bundles, Consumables, Currency, Monetized Timers, Limited Time Offers, and Cosmetics. The title is also exceedingly popular — approaching the 1 billion downloads milestone, coming in at 943 million downloads to date. Only 7 other games have achieved the 1 billion download threshold to date: Subway Surfers, Candy Crush Saga, Free Fire, Temple Run 2, My Talking Tom, 8 Ball Pool and Hill Climb Racing

Most Popular Mobile Games by App Store Consumer Spend in December 2023

The top charts for consumer spend are more stable than breakout charts with player loyalty playing a huge role in the staying power of top games. We didn’t see any breakout stars crack the top 10 this month but can expect to see them climb the ranks with successful monetization and engagement hooks down the line.

Royal Match and Gardenscapes by Playrix retained the #1 and #7 rank for consumer spend respectively — driven by innovative match gameplay and the meta themes which encapsulate them. Royal Match disrupted the Match genre — dethroning long standing favorite Candy Crush Saga. How did Royal Match upend a stable and difficult to penetrate market? We discussed this here

Where is the Mobile Gaming Industry Headed in 2024?

Hear the gaming industry’s leading experts from Deconstructor of Fun, data.ai, Liquid & Grit and HiDef, Inc. on what to expect in 2024 and how best to prepare for it. 

Get an exclusive listen in the hour-long deep-dive below: 

The information contained in this analysis and reports is compiled from data.ai, the leading market intelligence solution for the app store economy. To see how our app store download, revenue, demographic and usage estimates can help guide your critical business decisions, request a demo today.

January 19, 2024

Mobile Gaming

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