What is HQ? Millennial Marketing via Trivia Game Show

A look inside the viral sensation that’s become one of the most popular smartphone apps on the market

Trivia Game Shows. A staple of American culture since the golden age of television. A cadre of classic programs like Jeopardy, Hollywood Squares, and Wheel of Fortune. And now add to the list: HQ Trivia. This boiled down shot of adrenaline is 15 intense minutes calling you to summon every fiber of intellect and trivia knowledge to be the last person standing in a bloody free for all with over 1 million other players.

HQ isn’t for the faint of heart, so that’s why we’ve compiled this primer on how the game works, and how its creators are hoping to monetize. Hopefully by the end, you’ll be fully equipped to enter the fray and take your shot at winning the ultimate prize. Not for the money, but for the glory.

What is HQ?

HQ is a live trivia app that lets users across the world compete for a chance to win money in real time. Accessed through your smartphone, the game goes live every weekday at 12 PM and 6 PM MST, and once per day at 6 PM during the weekends. But it’s more than just a game. HQ makes for the perfect opportunity to gather with friends, co-workers and family and compete as a team for a piece of the grand prize. It’s also an excellent chance to impress your peers and flex a little bit of that #triviabrain.

How Do I Play HQ?

Once you’ve downloaded the app and allowed push notifications, you’ll receive a brief 5 minute reminder for any upcoming games. Each game consists of exactly 12 multiple choice trivia questions. Questions start out easy and gradually ratchet up to deviously difficult. The kicker? You’re only given 10 seconds to come up with an answer. Fortunately, with only 3 options to choose from, you’re odds are never quite Vegas levels. Plus, the game is free! Meaning, besides a wasted 15 minutes or getting caught playing at work by your boss, there’s virtually no downside to playing! HQ skirts the usual trivia game Achilles heel by keeping question times so low that it’s nearly impossible to fire off a Google search query in time.

Why Should I Play HQ?

If moolah is your primary motivation, every game concludes by distributing a cold, hard cash payout to all remaining players who can successfully answer all 12 questions. As of this post, the highest prize amount was $250,000 on March 28th, sponsored in part by Warner Bros. in promotion for the film Ready Player One. The tie-in may get lost on some. For those who haven’t read the book or seen the movie, the premise revolves around a massively shared online game in which all players are vying to answer a series of perplexing riddles and challenges to inherit a massive fortune. For HQ’s biggest game, the herd was thinned from approximately 2 million players to 12, resulting in a cash payout equal to roughly $21,000 per winner! And to think, if I had only remembered the hair color Annie Lenox rocked in the Eurythmics “Sweet Dreams” video…

Who is Behind HQ?

HQ is the brain child from the co-creators of Vine, Rus Yusupov and Colin Kroll. The game launched in August of 2017 and since has grown into a gargantuan online competition, reaching an all-time high of 2.56 million players on March 28th for the sweet quarter million pot. Thus far the founders have kept the lid tightly shut on exactly who is funding the majority of HQ’s payouts. VC’s, large entertainment conglomerates, Lex Luthor… really your guess is as good as the next person. Without a clear financial model in place it’s unclear exactly how stable HQ’s longevity will be. But it’s founders are all smiles, assuring interested parties that sponsored episodes will provide a viable return for investors down the road.

So far, the only bites have been from Nike and Warner Bros, whom each hosted sponsored episodes that managed to haul in a large supply of players. Nike included a limited edition Air Max giveaway with their prize, while Warner Bros has included an extended easter egg hunt with their cash payout, alluding to Ready Player One’s own easter egg premise.

Then Who is the Guy Asking the Questions?

Ah, I see you’ve met Scott. Scott Rogowsky, HQ’s breakout host and star is a stand-up comedian residing in New York City. Scott, or “Quiz Daddy”, according to his fans, injects an ingratiating charm into the proceedings. Whereas the occasional guest hosts either stumble or completely bomb, Rogowsky remains the unflappable face of HQ, dropping dad jokes, bad puns, and Phish references with ease. It’s truly a sad day when another of HQ’s rotating cast takes the helm, as evidenced in the unfolding group chat below, where thousands air their displeasure at not getting to see Scott.To the pessimist, HQ smacks of a Black Mirror dystopia where the masses fight over paltry table scraps, but to the optimist, HQ is simply an extension of that apple pie,  American staple of trivia game shows. It’s a shared place where we can compete in good faith, laugh along with our charming host, and momentarily escape from the headlines and deadlines of the world.

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