Kids Court, the grand prize winner from Amazon’s developer contest, disappears from the Alexa Skills Store

by admin March 23, 2018 at 10:36 pm

What does winning the Alexa Skills Challenge earn you from Amazon? Apparently, in addition to the $20,000 Grand Prize, you might also have your skill yanked from the Amazon Skill Store without warning. At least, that’s what seems to have happened to the grand prize winner from the recent Alexa’s kids competition, Pretzel Labs. Its winning submission, a fun skill called “Kids Court” where parents and kids settle arguments together using Alexa, has disappeared from Amazon’s Skills store.

There’s no update provided on the developer’s website or social media about the removal – and as a recent grand prize winner, one would have to assume a removal was unplanned.

Above: The page for the Kids Court skill

The problem also doesn’t appear to be one with the developer’s account, as other skills by Pretzel Labs – like “Freeze Dancers” – are still available, as of the time of writing.

That seems to indicate the skill was pulled for some other reason – like a content violation, a violation of terms, or just an accident. It’s not clear what would have triggered this, however, as the skill had not been substantially updated since it won Amazon’s contest.

Above: The Kids Court skill, from Google’s cache

Thousands of developers from 30 countries had registered for the Alexa Skills kid’s challenge, where they competed for a grand prize of $20,000, five bonus prizes ranging from $7,500 to $10,000, and a $5,000 prize for each of the 20 finalists. The competition was meant to help seed Alexa’s ecosystem with skills that would be popular with children and families, now that Alexa supports parental consent and COPPA compliance for skills.

Kids Court won the competition for its silly, family friendly skill that helps kids get over their disagreements.

“I decided to address one of the most agonizing parts of family life – kids fighting – and created Judge Lexy, which is an objective, quirky judge that helps kids settle their battles,” explained Pretzel Labs founder Adva Levin, in Amazon’s blog post about the winners.

The Alexa skill puts the dispute through a mock trial process and renders a verdict. (Kids might not fully understand words it uses like “plaintiff” and “defendant,” however, so it might be a better skill to use with mom or dad present.) The “judge” then issues a goofy punishment, like “try to stand on your hands.”