Vocala, a digital agency based in Surrey, England and led by Richard Matthews, decided in 2018 to create a voice studio that specialises in creating games and interactive skills for Alexa-enabled devices. Now, eighteen months on from the decision, they have over ten skills, including leading titles with tens of thousands of daily players. Vocala also has a number of clients that seek their knowledge on voice to build best-in-class experiences.
Developing Monetised Alexa Skills
Vocala have two approaches to ideating new skills:
- Create skills based on popular TV based gameshows and entertainment programmes. They identify TV programmes they believe will adapt well to voice first experiences and contact the IP owners to secure the rights to develop skills using the brands. Vocala has secured the rights to Deal or No Deal, Pointless and Tenable.
- Develop and create their own games. Any skill idea that has potential is drawn up in a simple format before it gets built. Vocala creates game engine prototypes and plays them. If the game is fun, they then allocate time to developing the skill.
Everyone in the Vocala team submits ideas for new skills. These ideas are then vetted based on a voice first use case, development potential, audience type, marketing opportunities and competitive landscape. “The most important factor in our ideation stage is the understanding of the people for whom we’re designing the skill – the customer,” says Richard.
In the VUI design stage, Vocala creates a customer journey map to identify the customers’ needs at the different stages of engagement. Once they have defined the various scenarios, they then create a sample dialog flow which outlines keywords that lead to the interactions and the branches, that represent where the conversation could lead to. They then write up full conversational dialogs of all the interactions that could take place between the customer and Alexa.
The next step is to gather all the required assets for the game such as voice overs, music, and graphic design assets, as well as assessing their use of in-skill purchasing (ISP). To date, Vocala has seven games using ISP, which gives them the opportunity to experiment with the upsell and product types. As each of their skills have different formats, they are able to see which product type and upsell design works with what format and, continue to improve based on reviews.
Free Content First, Premium Content Second
With the introduction of ISP, Vocala is extending their focus to include sales, marketing, audience profiling, upsell opportunity and premium content. However, Richard emphasized the importance of getting the free experience right prior to focusing on the premium experience. “Our focus has always been to drive volume of players and, to do this you need to make sure your free skill has all the attributes to excite and gain loyal, repeat players, who will want to purchase your premium content,” says Richard. He continues “ISP gives you the opportunity to add premium content, which your customers will pay for – but first they need to enjoy and use your skill with the free play options. Your focus should be on making your skill the best it can be – with premium content to follow.” His advice is to create a roadmap and a clear strategy, as he thinks this is vital when developing the skill, as well as understanding the audience so that the skill is targeted towards them.
Monetisation Provides Growth and Experimentation Opportunities for Voice Businesses
Vocala believes monetisation will give developers the opportunity to earn money for their work and, further develop the relationship with their customers. It will give them the resources to continue to invest in their skills to grow a bigger fan base and offer more to customers. “Premium means premium, so the time to develop will take longer, but the investment made will be returned, if done correctly. Through financial support from the people, who love the skill,” says Richard. He continues “Our goal is that monetisation will enable us to continue to release new skills and, to enhance existing skills, add more visual content, media and creative resource to our skills.”
Vocala’s roadmap and pipeline is robust, with new skills already in development. They continue to evaluate IP opportunities and are in talks with a number of content owners for new skill releases in 2019 and beyond. In addition to developing their own skills, they’ve also attracted clients for their agency business from brands and companies who want to offer skills. It’s a busy but exciting time, and Vocala is recruiting to meet the demand and looking at new office space to accommodate their expanding team.
Make Money by Creating Engaging Voice Games Customers Love
With ISP, you can sell premium content to enrich your Alexa skill experience. ISP supports one-time purchases for entitlements that unlock access to features or content in your skill, subscriptions that offer access to premium features or content for a period of time, and consumables which can be purchased and depleted. You define your premium offering and price, and we handle the voice-first purchasing flow. Download our introductory guide to learn more.