According to founder and CEO Kevin Deakin, Musicplode Media Ltd is a media and entertainment marketing company—not a game maker. But the creator of the popular UK radio music quiz show, Beat the Intro, saw voice-first gaming as a new frontier and an opportunity to further grow his company. To Deakin and managing director Dave Brown, a streaming music quiz game seemed a natural fit for Alexa. Today, the Beat the Intro game skill is helping Musicplode reach more customers, build brand awareness, and generate revenue with in-skill purchasing (ISP).
“Many people use Alexa devices for streaming music, so we felt voice was the perfect medium for a music-based game like Beat the Intro,” says Brown. “And with over 100 million Alexa-enabled devices out there, it gave us an opportunity to grow our brand, engage more customers, and monetize our efforts by offering premium content that customers love."
Beat the Intro tests Alexa customers’ music knowledge with a variety of free gameplay rounds. The skill also offers players a monthly subscription with unlimited play and a library of categorized music packs. Trying to guess the names and artists of the music tracks is so engaging that customers are eager to extend their playtime by signing up for the monthly subscription. Today, Brown and Deakin are seeing a 45% offer-to-purchase conversion rate and a 4-star rating in the Alexa Skills Store.
“With Alexa and in-skill purchasing, we have the opportunity to engage audiences with our own brand and build a revenue stream at the same time,” says Brown.
The original idea for Beat the Intro came from a marketing campaign Deakin created for a London radio broadcaster. The radio DJs would play snippets of songs and invite listeners to guess the song title and artist. Deakin eventually developed the music quiz into a DVD-based game and was planning to create a mobile version in 2015 when he first discovered Alexa. Given the potential, he immediately pivoted Musicplode’s game development strategy to focus on voice games.
“I rushed off to the Amazon store in Seattle and bought an Echo to bring back to London,” says Brown. “We felt from the outset Alexa was such a natural medium for games like Beat the Intro, so we immediately started scoping out how we could use Alexa—not mobile devices—to bring our game to life.”
The Beat the Intro game skill starts off by presenting the Daily Challenge, which provides three new song tracks for players to guess every day. After that, customers can play another round of seven musical questions each per day. Players can choose from three play modes: solo (against a simulated challenger), team mode for two groups of participants, or multiple player mode which allows up to four players with Echo Buttons to battle it out.
Beside its engaging game design with fun music content, Musicplode uses SSML to delight customers by using a blend of human voices (like Moozzo, the game’s wacky host) and a variety of unusual sound effects in addition to Alexa, who is the voice of the announcer and scorekeeper.
“To engage customers for long periods of time, we used radio production-quality techniques throughout the skill, like human voices, layering voiceovers on the music tracks, and clever audio effects like a ‘sting’ at the end of a track,” says Brown. “Techniques like that make Beat the Intro stand out from other skills.”
Given its popularity, Beat the Intro quickly started earning money through Alexa Developer Rewards, a program that pays developers for eligible skills with some of the highest customer engagement. But the Musicplode team wanted to deepen engagement by giving customers more of what they love, not to mention creating a more predictable revenue stream for the game. For this, they turned to monetizing their skill using ISP.
“Getting rewards checks in the post every month was nice, but these weren't at a level that would sustain a business like ours,” says Brown. “With in-skill purchasing, we knew we’d found a perfect way to monetize our game, while giving players a richer experience.”
When Beat the Intro launched its premium content in August 2018, it offered players the features they most requested: to extend their gameplay and customize the game experience with music categories of their choice. To show customers the value of the premium content, Beat the Intro offers a free 14-day trial that customers can cancel any time. If they opt to purchase Beat the Intro Unlimited—a subscription for $2.99 a month and a discount for Amazon Prime members—customers can play an unlimited number of game rounds and select music from a particular decade or genre.
With an impressive 45% conversion rate and a 4.0-star rating in the Alexa Skills Store—not to mention being named one of Amazon’s top skills of 2018—Musicplode has a winning skill to engage customers and build its brand.
With in-skill purchasing, Beat the Intro is building a base of engaged customers who are more than willing to purchase premium content to extend their gameplay. Players describe the skill as a great game for those who love music with “lots of genres and songs.” Some have left reviews describing how the skill is “challenging and fun” and like the experience of seeing where they rank against other players.
“We're constantly updating our content by adding new tracks and genres on a regular basis, as well as special packs for major sporting events and awards,” says Brown. “This allows us to keep the game fresh, which helps us delight and retain our customers.”
Voice is the next frontier in gaming, evidenced by the popularity of hit game skills like Beat the Intro. With the opportunities for developers to create engaging voice-first games for Alexa and make money with in-skill purchasing, Brown says Musicplode plans to continue investing in voice and building their brand presence though Alexa.
“The combination of Alexa, voice-first games, and in-skill purchasing gives companies like ours the ability to create engaging voice-first games, reach more customers than ever, and build a sustainable revenue stream for their voice business,” says Brown.
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.