Amazon will now pay Alexa developers for top-performing skills for kids

Last year, Amazon announced a program that would reward developers for building popular and well-received Alexa skills, by doling out cash payments for top-performing skills. Initially, the program was only open to game skill developers – as that was a category Amazon wanted to encourage – before expanding in August to a limited set of other categories. Today, Amazon is expanding the program again – this time, to kids skills.

This brings the number of skill categories that qualify for direct payments to eight, including Education & Reference, Food & Drink, Health & Fitness, Lifestyle, Music & Audio, and Productivity, in addition to Games and now, Kids.

Amazon also gave an update on how the program itself has been doing. While the company didn’t release exact numbers, as per usual, it says it paid out “millions of dollars” to developers in 22 countries, who have their skills published in the U.S., U.K., and Germany.

Some developers have even earned “tens of thousands of dollars,” and a few earned over $100,000, Amazon noted.

The idea to pay developers directly is meant to help fuel the growing voice app ecosystem ahead of broader adoption of monetization tools like in-skill purchases and paid subscriptions. It’s also meant to help developers building voice apps where those features wouldn’t make sense – apps that would have otherwise integrated advertising to make money, which is something Amazon doesn’t currently allow.

The announcement that Amazon would begin paying top kids skills developers was timed to coincide with news of the winners of the “Alexa Skills Challenge: Kids,” which doled out $250,000 in cash and prizes for those building skills targeting kids under the age of 13.

Amazon Alexa has been a hit with kids, as any parent who brought an Echo into their home could tell you. So it makes sense that Amazon would now want to push developers to build more apps and games aimed at children.

The company also made its platform kid-and-parent friendly last year, with the addition a parental consent feature for kids’ voice apps, which brought Alexa into compliance with U.S. COPPA (Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act) laws. That led to the launch of several kids apps from big name brands, like Nickelodeon and Sesame Street.

Because of the regulation around kids apps, developers can only publish kids skills in the U.S at this time, Amazon says.