When Nidhi Agarwal got her first Amazon Echo in 2016, it was an instant hit with her family. She never imagined that less than two years later, her voice-first game skill Would You Rather for Family would be named as one of the Alexa Skills of the Year in 2018. After adding in-skill purchasing (ISP) and implementing Amazon-recommended best practices, she’s seeing her revenue, on average, double month over month and is well on her way to building a voice business.
“I love building games that are family-friendly and make people happy,” say Agarwal. “With in-skill purchasing, I can deliver a richer gaming experience and build a business around my voice games.”
Agarwal first started earning money from her skill through Alexa Developer Rewards, a program that pays developers for eligible skills with some of the highest customer engagement. These earnings encouraged her to add ISP to her skill to build a sustainable voice business with unlimited upside.
“At first I was a little worried that asking players to pay for content would impact our reviews,” says Agarwal. “But players have been very receptive to the premium content and experiences we’ve provided, and we have seen more traffic and higher usage since adding ISP.”
Agarwal uses ISP to enrich her skill experience by selling premium content to customers. She refined her skill by following Amazon’s recommendations for building a compelling in-skill purchasing experience to keep her customers engaged and delighted. As a result, with over 3,300 reviews and 4.9-star rating in the Alexa Skills Store, Would You Rather has been featured in a variety of Amazon marketing channels, bringing greater exposure and compounding traffic to her skill.
“When I got started with Alexa skills, I just wanted a game to play with family and friends. I would have been thrilled if even 100 users played,” says Agarwal. “Now we have hundreds of thousands of people playing every month. With in-skill purchasing and the marketing opportunities Amazon provides me, I’m able to reach more customers and build my business.”
Building a Voice-First Version of a Favorite Family Game Inspires a Business
Agarwal, a mother of two young children, was first inspired to build skills for Alexa when she saw how quickly her kids adapted to interacting with Alexa. Inspired by the tablet-based games she and her kids played together, Agarwal sought to come up with voice-based experiences that they could enjoy as a family.
“I saw how naturally my boys interacted with Alexa, and that's when I realized the potential of voice,” says Agarwal.
The premise of Would You Rather is simple. Alexa asks the player to choose between two often-silly actions, questions which entertain children and their parents. For example, “Would you rather have bad breath or smelly feet?” Alexa injects humorous prompts that make kids laugh, such as asking, "Are you still there, or have you gone on a bathroom break?" when they player doesn’t answer. The game also tells players what percentage of other players agreed with their choices.
This simple but powerful idea inspired Agarwal to start her own voice business called Voice Games. As more and more customers started playing Would You Rather, Agarwal decided to hire a global team to implement new features, add fresh skill content, and develop new game skills.
In-Skill Purchasing Sets Voice Games Up for Success
Would You Rather quickly evolved, delighting customers with multi-player and “team play” modes, as well as multimodal enhancements for Alexa-enabled devices with screens. But it was the ability to offer premium content as in-skill purchases that brought Agarwal the opportunity to deepen engagement, drive higher customer retention, and set up Voice Games for future growth and success.
Today, Would You Rather offers players a variety of products that unlock access to themed special edition question packs, such as Christmas, Winter, Superheroes, and many more—even a football edition for the Super Bowl. Each special edition pack contains questions pertaining to that specific theme. Players can buy any edition as a one-time purchase, or they can opt for a consumable purchase—a seven-day pass that allows unlimited play of all editions—perfect for family get-togethers. In her other games such as Trivia Battle and Fact or Fib, Agarwal offers a variety of in-skill products as monthly subscriptions, one-time purchases, and consumables.
Customers love the premium content, as evidenced by Agarwal’s engagement metrics in the Alexa Developer Console. Would You Rather maintains a 4.9-star rating in the Alexa Skills Store with over 3,300 reviews. Customers have played more the 50 million questions on the game—5 million questions in December alone—and many of them are paying to play.
Improving the Customer Experience Leads to Increased Revenue
To optimize her skill, Agarwal turned to guidance from Amazon including upsell best practices and requirements for ISP skills to be eligible for Amazon promotion. She implemented the tips geared toward improving the customer experience, such as adding utterances to better let customers know what products her skill offers (“What can I buy?”) and what they’ve purchased (“What did I buy?”). As a result, Agarwal saw an uptick in customer engagement with her premium content, which translated to more sales and revenue. What’s more, since she followed the guidelines for ISP skills, Would You Rather met eligibility for Amazon promotion and was included in an email to Alexa customers and featured on the Alexa Skills Store. Agarwal says this visibility allowed more customers to discover her skill, and her revenue from ISP on average doubled month over month.
In addition to Amazon promotion, Agarwal leveraged skill promotion best practices to help make her skill more marketable, including creating an eye-catching skill icon and promoting her skill to customers through email and social media channels. As a result of these efforts, Agarwal is well on her way to reaching more customers and building a successful voice business.
Building a Sustainable Revenue Stream Means First Delighting Your Customers
To succeed at monetizing your Alexa game skills, Agarwal says you have to first “give customers awesome content and a great experience”—one they’ll love to explore, that they play again and again, and that they want to pay to play more of.
Agarwal has shown that adding ISP can help deepen engagement with customers, which in turn generates revenue and drives a successful voice business. When monetizing a skill, she advises developers to first consider the customer: be thoughtful about the type of premium content customers will be willing to pay for, and properly present those offers. To do that, Agarwal suggests following the guidelines for building and promoting a compelling ISP experience so that you too can build a profitable, voice-first gaming business with thousands of happy customers.
“With in-skill purchasing, we now have a sustainable revenue stream that allows us to reinvest in our business, enhance our existing games, keep our content fresh with new premium content, and build new games,” says Agarwal. “We will definitely be creating more great experiences for the family with Alexa, and hopefully taking those skills to players worldwide.”
Make Money by Creating Engaging Skills 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.