In-Skill Purchasing Takes Volley’s Thriving Voice Business to the Next Level
Jennifer King Jun 27, 2018
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When Volley founders Max Child and James Wilsterman decided to pivot their mobile app development consultancy to a voice games publisher, they never expected to have the top-rated games in the Alexa Skills Store. While those skills earned Volley a respected place in the voice industry, they knew that monetization was the next step to growing their business. And that meant creating premium experiences to sell to customers.

“The thing about running a company is you always have to get to the next level,” says Child. “Monetization is the next great business opportunity for voice developers.”

In less than 12 months, Volley’s games proved to be amongst the most engaging, amassing over 500,000 active monthly users and quickly becoming a top earner in the Alexa Developer Rewards program. But it was the addition of in-skill purchasing that allowed Volley to scale. It began selling premium content in the form of expansion packs for its popular Yes Sire role-playing adventure game. Child says the conversion rate of customers purchasing expansion packs is much higher than mobile, and he feels this bodes well for the future of sustainable businesses built with Alexa.

“With the ability to offer in-skill purchases, we found an essential piece of the puzzle to grow our business by bringing even better experiences to players,” says Child.

Embracing the Opportunities and Rewards of Voice

Child and Wilsterman recognized that the mobile app space had long ago become overcrowded with games. When Child received an Amazon Echo as a birthday gift, they saw the opportunity to bring their big ideas to life via voice.

“The coolest thing about voice-controlled games is that they can enable a live multiplayer experience,” says Child. “Voice gives us a unique power and a unique opportunity to create social experiences in a way that the web and mobile really didn't.”

Volley’s first breakout skill, Song Quiz, is a multiplayer game that challenges listeners to guess a song’s name and artist from a short sound snippet. Their most recent top-rated skill is Yes Sire, a fantasy role-playing game where the customer takes on the role of a ruling squire in a medieval kingdom.

These games—and more than a half dozen others from Volley—have more than 1,000 five-star ratings in the Alexa Skills Store. They’ve been so successful that they catapulted Volley to a top earner in the Alexa Developer Rewards program, which pays developers of skills driving some of the highest customer engagement.

“The Alexa Developer Rewards program was the spark for the entire company that we have today,” says Child. “The program allowed us enhance our skill by hiring other writers to help expand the amount of content we put out there.”

Delivering Premium Content to Deepen Customer Engagement

With the help of Alexa Developer Rewards, Volley proved its voice-first strategy for its game studio was the right choice. Now Child aspires to make Volley a leader in the voice-controlled entertainment space, and monetization is the critical factor to achieve that vision.

“Our goal is to build games that people can play for hundreds of hours, but that requires a significant investment in both content and game design,” says Child. “We believe being able to directly monetize the relationship with our customers is critical to making this investment and delivering on that goal.”

In Yes Sire, Volley now offers in-skill purchases by selling expansion packs to provide additional scenarios and questions in the adventure story. This premium content yields revenue that Volley can reinvest in building their business with Alexa.

“In-skill purchases allow us to sell something of value directly to our customers, which in turn lets us make the investment necessary to continuously improve the skills,” says Child. “Those improvements help us attract and retain more customers, which fuel our growth and allow us to invest more to deliver even more value.”

Building Engaging Skills That Customers Love and Want to Pay For

The addition of Yes Sire’s premium expansion packs is already paying off for Volley. According to recent five-star reviews, Yes Sire players are excited about the additional premium content. And Child is excited to see how many customers are already purchasing the new expansion packs.

“Our customers' reaction to the expansion pack has been extremely positive,” says Child. “The people who love playing Yes Sire have always wanted to play more, and it's really exciting to be able to provide them the expanded, narrative experience they want.”

Make Money by Creating Engaging Skills Customers Love

You can make money for eligible skills that drive some of the highest customer engagement with Alexa Developer Rewards. You can also make money with Alexa skills using in-skill purchasing or Amazon Pay for Alexa Skills. Download our introductory guide to learn more.