These apps are ahead of the game on virtual goods

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US smartphone gamers will spend $18.83 billion on virtual goods this year, a massive sum compared with the less than $1 billion they’ll spend on subscriptions. These intangible assets make up a growing industry in the gaming world, especially as more companies—from Nike to Spotify to Chipotle—enter the metaverse via games like Roblox.

Beyond the chart: Among US smartphone users overall, in-app spending will hit $42.31 billion this year, split fairly evenly between gaming and nongaming apps. More than half of that total goes toward virtual goods, like avatar skins and video filters, and will continue to do so through the end of our forecast period in 2026. For retailers, that means smartphone users—gamers in particular—represent a market of people ready and willing to spend billions of dollars on products that don’t involve the production costs or supply chain considerations of tangible goods.

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