AlexaDev Tuesday: Amazon Pays Alexa Skill Royalties In A New, Trial Program

Publication Date: 5/15/17 – It has finally happened: Amazon, on a trial basis at least, has started paying devs Alexa skill royalties. The new program seems like it’s modeled on the Amazon App Store’s Unlimited program.


End Of The Month


Got An Idea For An Engaging Game Skill? Now Would Be A Great Time To Run With It.
Today I was shocked to receive an email from the Amazon Alexa Team that announced:

Congratulations! You have one or more top performing game skills on Alexa.

We are exploring new ways to reward our developers for their skills in the US, the UK and Germany. Starting this month, we are giving eligible game skill developers the opportunity to earn money through their skills based on customer usage.

We have good news for you! Because of your skill’s performance in April, you are eligible for a reward. Details below:

Skill Name Locale Payout Amount
Bingo US $223.23


The email reminded me to establish or update my payment information—since I also have some apps listed the Amazon App Store I’m all set on that score—, then went on to say:


Ways to Earn Even More
The more innovative you are with your games, the more money you can earn. You can even earn money for your skills in more than one country where Alexa is available. Bring your skills to the US, the UK, and Germany for a chance at an even bigger reward.


So Why MY Skill, And Why That Amount?
While Amazon isn’t specifying any numeric formulas for how royalties are calculated, or minimum session counts to be considered for royalties at all, they do say it’s currently limited to skills in the Games category and it’s based on popularity and usage stats. Here’s a snapshot that shows stats for Bingo over the past 7 days, which sheds a little light and can be used for comparison against your own skills’ stats  (click/tap on image to view a larger version in a new tab or window).


Bingo Stats Sample


That big blue chunk in the pie chart represents how many of the utterances spoken to my skill were a form of “Ready” intent. In this skill, every time the user wants Alexa to read the next number he or she must utter a Ready intent. So this chart illustrates that users spent a lot of time interacting with the skill in each session relative to Start utterances, which are represented by the green pie slice.


This Is A Test
Right now, Amazon’s being very careful not to make any guarantees and they’re not revealing the calculus behind the program. But it seems to me that this type of royalty model, based solely on user engagement with an application they have access to free of charge, is a pretty close match for the Amazon Underground Apps program. The more users you can get to launch sessions and the longer you can keep them interacting with your skill, the better your stats will be and the more likely it is your skill will earn royalties.

While I had no idea monetization of any kind would ever be possible when I wrote it, Bingo is the ideal type of skill for this program because it takes a while, and a lot of user interaction, to play a single game of Bingo. But the payment model would seem to skew highly in favor of Game skills of the Choose Your Own Adventure type too, where the user must remain engaged and interacting with your skill to solve a mystery, play out a story or similar.

Unfortunately I don’t have any more information to share, but you can click here to read Amazon’s own FAQ for developers. Fair warning: you won’t find many more details about the program and how it works there.