Alexa Skill Consumable Purchasing

Amazon Adds Consumables In-Game Purchases for Alexa Skills

Amazon yesterday announced the introduction of in-game Alexa skill purchases for consumable items. A blog post by Amazon product marketing manager, Metty Fisseha, characterizes these as consumables.

A consumable is an in-skill product that customers can purchase, use, and then purchase again…With consumables, you can sell products that are relevant in the moment to customers as they experience your skill.

Consumable purchases join one-time purchases and subscriptions as the third leg of Amazon’s Alexa in-skill purchasing features. The solutions must be enabled through the Alexa Skills Kit (ASK) Command-Line Interface (CLI) by developers. Earnings can be tracked through the Alexa analytics dashboard.

Image Credit: Amazon

Amazon points out that consumables add a layer of complexity for developers implementing in-skill purchases. It requires developers to use a database and “inventory intent” to track how much of the purchased feature has been used and what is remaining. This presumably will also add to the effort associated with skill certification since many scenarios will need to be evaluated.

A New Monetization Tool for Alexa Game Developers

The practical application of this is for game developers to sell hints, special capabilities, design elements and lives that enable users to play better, longer or with more customization. Amazon has a beta version of consumables in-game purchasing running with three companies. From the Amazon announcement:

  • Would You Rather for Family (Voice Games) – In this family-friendly game, you have to make a choice between two lighthearted and silly situations, such as “Would you rather have bad breath or smelly feet” or “Would you rather forget to pack your neck pillow or your headphones.” The free version of the skill contains general questions and the premium version offers themed questions, such as Superheroes, Travel, and Halloween. You can purchase a 7-day pass to access all of the available themed premium packs. After 7 days, your access returns to the free version.
  • Yes Sire (Volley) – In this medieval role-play game, you, the Sire, are presented with a series of difficult decisions with consequences that impact your wealth and influence, which are measured on a scale from 0 to 100. If either score reaches zero, the game will end, or you can purchase 50 extra points to keep the game going.
  • Hypno Therapist (Innomore LLC) – In this relaxing skill, you can access therapy sessions administered by clinical hypnotist Barry Thain. Each therapy session is intended to help you with a specific goal, such as appreciating yourself and feeling fabulous. You can purchase a bundle of 10 hypnotherapy sessions from a catalog of 70+ therapies. Once you use up all 10, you have the option to purchase a new bundle.

Amazon also announced that Who Wants to be a Millionaire from Sony Pictures Television will soon launch an Alexa skill and there will be an option to purchase additional life-lines. One of the beta testers for consumables purchases told Voicebot by email yesterday that it is too early to determine whether this will be a successful monetization strategy. However, Amazon is moving deliberately to offer developers multiple options for monetization beyond the rewards program which is a direct subsidy from Amazon for popular Alexa skills.

BusinessofApps reports that in-app purchases accounted for $37 billion in worldwide app revenue in 2017. That figure outpaced direct purchases of apps and in-app advertising. In-app purchases are a proven revenue model for mobile apps and Amazon is expecting that to carryover to skills. This will be a feature to watch closely. Documentation for consumables purchases can be found here.


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