Media & Entertainment

Amazon’s adding voice-powered gaming to big name games with Alexa Game Control


woman sitting at desktop, gaming
Image Credits: gorodenkoff (opens in a new window) / Getty Images

Amazon announced the launch of Alexa Game Control, allowing gamers to play games by using their voice. “Dead Island 2” will be the first game to be compatible with Alexa Game Control, with other games to follow. Gamers can yell at zombies now!

Alexa Game Control gives users an accessible, hands-free option that allows for easier gaming. Plus, game developers also gain a new tool they can use for a more interactive gaming experience.

It’s currently in private beta and will initially only be available in North America, with no word on when it’ll be available in other countries. Amazon was not immediately available to answer our questions.

Players must have a free basic Amazon or Prime account to use Alexa Game Control. It can be accessed by either using push-to-talk, which requires you to hold down a button or key to activate your microphone, or Voice Activity, a hands-free feature that detects when a user starts speaking automatically. You also don’t need to say “Alexa” to start a command, Amazon noted.

Alexa Game Control is built on the same technology that powers the Alexa voice AI. Players will also have access to Alexa features such as controlling their smart home devices, setting timers and checking the weather.

Users don’t need an Echo device to use Alexa Game Control either: It works with any microphone or headset connected to their PC or console. However, according to Amazon’s website, it’s only compatible with Xbox and PC right now.

Hopefully, the Alexa Game Control will be available on other devices as well, since “Dead Island 2” will launch for Xbox, PlayStation 4 and 5, PC, and Stadia on February 3, 2023.

Amazon previously released an Alexa Skills Kit (ASK) for developers to create games for Alexa. This allows them to design games with integrated voice for any Alexa-enabled device that has a screen — Amazon Echo Show, Fire TV, along with other devices from various manufacturers.

With the release of Alexa Game Control, Amazon seems to be hoping for its technology to become more commonplace.

Voice recognition technology isn’t a new thing for video games. In 1998, Nintendo launched “Hey You, Pikachu!”, which featured a limited number of pre-programmed voice commands. The game also came with a microphone accessory so you could interact with Pokémon.

In 2011, Microsoft updated the Xbox 360, bringing voice recognition to users when the Xbox is paired with a Kinect. Seven years later, the company gave users the ability to control the Xbox from Alexa and Cortana.

Crypto gaming is growing, but can it reach people outside of the web3 world?

Four years ago, Razer’s gaming platform integrated Amazon’s Alexa voice controls.

There are many video games that bring the human voice into play (see what we did there), either by recognizing any sound through a microphone or recognizing specific words or phrases that players can say to control an element of the game.

For example, the strategy adventure game “There Came an Echo” uses a voice recognition system that allows players to use custom words for commands. Games like “The Broken Seal” and “In Verbis Virtus” allows you to use your voice to cast spells.

However, voice recognition has its disadvantages, such as misinterpretation, lack of accuracy, inability to recognize accents, background noise interference, etc. Alexa has been associated with a few of these problems before, so we’ll have to see how reliable Alexa Game Control will be.

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