London-based game studio Sensible Object is launching pre-orders for its voice-assisted game, When In Rome. When In Rome is the first title in Sensible Object’s new line of voice-enhanced tabletop games, called Voice Originals.
When In Rome sees Alexa play the part of host, keeping track of the score and taking players around the world where real people from 20 different cities ask them trivia questions. The game is available for pre-order through Amazon.com and Amazon.co.uk. In addition to the board game, players can try When In Rome for free by installing the accompanying When In Rome Alexa skill.
When In Rome is the result of Sensible Object’s participation in the first Alexa Accelerator, held last year. Sensible Object executives worked with teams from Amazon Alexa and the Colorado-based seed accelerator Techstars to create a board game specifically designed to work with Alexa.
Mattel is also launching new games that integrate voice assistants. The toyco’s Escape Room in a Box is a play experience that mimics real-world escape room challenges, with a group of people solving puzzles to break out of a locked space. Escape Room in a Box is enhanced with voice and soundscaping through Amazon Alexa, though Alexa is not required to play the game.
Recent data from market research firm The NPD Group shows that voice assistant ownership among US internet-enabled households sits at around 15%, and that number is expected to grow by 50% in the next year. And an Amazon-backed study from international nonprofit Family Online Safety Institute (FOSI) found that 70% of parents are comfortable with their child having a connected device or toy.
In addition to the upcoming launch of When In Rome, Sensible Object raised a total of US$3.2 million in a new round of funding. Participants in this most recent round include NCSOFT, March Capital, London Venture Partners and the Amazon Alexa Fund. The new funding will support research and development, customer acquisition and product development. Sensible Object now reports a total of US$5 million in funding to date.
Sensible Object launched in 2016 with Beasts of Balance, a physical-digital hybrid game that requires players to build a tower of beasts on a tabletop. The pieces are connected to a digital world through iOS and Android tablets and smartphones, with specialty pieces causing the beasts in play to evolve in unexpected ways.