Amazon Kids+ (previously FreeTime) is giving children another excuse to beg for their parents’ phones. Amazon today announced two new kid-friendly mobile games for its subscription-based entertainment platform Amazon Kids+, a $2.99 per month service that provides access to children’s books, TV shows, movies, games and more. Based on the original Amazon specials “Super Spy Ryan” and “Do, Re & Mi,” kids can now experience ad-free mobile games from their favorite series. Both games are free for anyone to download (an Amazon Kids+ subscription isn’t required).
Also, an Amazon spokesperson told TechCrunch that Amazon Kids+ subscribers can expect “some extra goodies with both games” soon.
The new games are published by Amazon Mobile, making them the first mobile games published directly by Amazon since 2015 when Til Morning’s Light was released along with To-Fu Fury. (Amazon’s broader gaming division, however, has since released its own titles, including New World and Lost Ark.)
The multiplayer mobile game “Super Spy Ryan,” based on the content special created by pocket.watch, is available now on the Apple and Google Play app stores in the U.S., the U.K. and Ireland, and is coming soon to Canada, Germany and Japan, per today’s announcement. It will be coming soon to the Amazon Kids+ subscription on Amazon Fire Tablets. “Super Spy Ryan” brings the beloved kids’ show to life so ages 6-9 can experience stealing birthday gifts from the evil Packrat’s lair, and using Gus’ slime cannon and X-ray goggles to fight off Packrat’s henchmen.
“Expanding Ryan’s World in new and immersive ways is crucial to pocket.watch and the Ryan’s World brand in fulfilling our mission to bring kids more of what they love,” said Kerry Tucker, chief marketing and franchise officer at pocket.watch. “Ryan, like so many kids his age, loves gaming and we’re proud to build on his authentic interests as we empower kids to take playtime into their own hands.”
Amazon Kids+ prides itself on designing games as well as other forms of entertainment with kid safety in mind. Thus, “Super Spy Ryan” will have no friend lists or chat features, and all players are given anonymous Spy-themed usernames. There is also “Single Player Mode” as well as “Party Mode” so kids can play safe no matter what.
While the music education game (ages 3-5) “Do, Re & Mi” hasn’t appeared in the game lineup yet (but will soon), it will be available to the Apple app store in the U.S., the U.K., Canada and Ireland as well as on Amazon Fire Tablets through the Amazon Kids+ subscription. The game stars the voices of Kristen Bell and Jackie Tohn (who helped adapt the series), and features various activities that teach kids how to play the piano, bongos, or even read sheet music (will you have the next Yo-Yo Ma on your hands?). Kids can also unleash their inner Dr. Dre and “produce” their own tunes.
Natasha Lipovac, global head of Amazon Kids+ content, said, “Super Spy Ryan and Do, Re & Mi represent some of our most popular Amazon Kids+ content. We hope both add smiles and laughter to kids and grown-ups alike with this first look at the new kind of fun coming from the Amazon Kids+ mobile games team.”
If parents have ever bought a Kindle Kids e-reader for their child, then it’s probable they’re already familiar with the Amazon Kids+ subscription.
But it’s not the only Amazon product aimed at children. Last month, the company released Amazon Glow, a kid-friendly tablet for video calls and projects, including books, visual art activities, and games. Amazon also offers Alexa Voice Profiles for Kids and a line of Echo Dots designed for kids. So it’s likely we’ll see a lot more children’s focused content from Amazon in the future.
The next generation
In recent years, Amazon has made a serious effort to corner the children’s market. And it’s not the only company to do so. HBO Max, Netflix, Peacock and Paramount+, among other streaming services, have recognized the value in giving parents the option to stream their own TV shows and movies while their kids watch the same service in another room.
Derek Johnson demonstrates this in his book “Transgenerational Media Industries: Adults, Children, and the Reproduction of Culture,” writing, “kids have served as a disproportionate focus for streaming services not solely as a priority market niche but instead as a crucial building block in the construction of a wider subscription base.”
According to the ESA’s annual 2021 Essential Facts About the Video Game Industry report, 76% of kids under the age of 18 are gamers, with 74% of parents playing right along with them. Especially during the pandemic, the study found that 71% of moms and dads (most likely very tired and stressed) saw video games as a “much-needed” break for their kids.
Netflix has also begun to capitalize on the intersection of streaming video entertainment and gaming with Netflix Games, where it also released some games based on its popular shows, like “Stranger Things,” among other casual gaming titles.
The company says its Amazon Kids+ subscription will “introduce even more new content for kids and families to enjoy” later this year.
Updated 4/14/22, 12:58 p.m. ET with Amazon spokesperson comment.