Amazon is shutting down their Underground appstore, but they’re not giving up on the idea of paying developers based on the amount of time users play a game. Starting this month, the retailer will be directly paying developers of top Alexa game skills. Payments will be based on “a variety of metrics, such as minutes of usage, new customers, and other measures of engagement.”
Amazon says they are “exploring new ways to reward our developers” and have therefore started a new compensation program called Rewards for Skill Developers. They will be selecting top Alexa game skills each month and notifying their developers, via email, about entry into the program. Those developers will receive payments through Amazon’s Developer Portal each month.
Details of the program are very sparse. Amazon has not said what qualifies as a top game, nor have they outlined how much can be made or how specifically payments will be calculated. All they’ve said is top Alexa skills in the “Games, Trivia, & Accessories” category will be selected to receive some unknown amount of money each month, as long as the developer has set up payment and tax information in their developer account settings.
The introduction of this new compensation program is the first time Amazon has outlined a method for Alexa skill developers to be paid for their work, since there is currently no way for a developer to charge for their Alexa skill. This is likely a way for Amazon to retain control of how Alexa skills are monetized before 3rd-party voice ads flood in. Despite banning Alexa skill ads, Amazon needs to give developers an alternative to ducking the rules and running ads before it’s too late.