If you work in an office environment, you’ve most likely at least noticed the groups of coworkers who crowd around one person’s phone at 3pm every day. Maybe you’ve wondered what they’re up to, or maybe you’re one of them. HQ is a mobile trivia game developed by Vine creators Rus Yusupov and Colin Kroll that launched in August 2017. It’s basically a live game show that anyone with the app can participate in—and they give away real money.
Basically, there are 12 multiple choice questions. You have to get all 12 right to make it to then end—if you get one wrong, you’re automatically out—and you have about 10 seconds to answer each question. After 12 questions, the remaining players split the (recently increased from $2500) $5000 pot. Sometimes each person makes less than $2, other times the prize is more substantial like $30 or sometimes over $100.
The game is broadcast live at 3pm and 9pm on weekdays and just 9pm on weekends. On Sunday the prize leaps to $25,000 and the last couple weeks the questions have kept going until only one player remains standing. That player wins the entire prize. Not bad for answering a series of trivia questions about random topics such as U.S. history, literature, pop culture, the animal kingdom, and much more.
There have been a few special events, such as a $50,000 prize on Oscar night, and an extra game at 12:30am on New Years Day. While the game is normally hosted by fan favourite Scott Rogowsky, there are a few alternate hosts that are noticeably not as universally loved the way Scott is. Guest appearances by Kristi Yamaguchi during the Olympics and Ryan Seacrest on New Years Eve have created a little more hype for the game which often has more than a million players.
Many people have wondered how an app like HQ could possibly be able to give away so much money on a daily basis. Originally, one catch was that each player had to accumulate $20 within 90 days before they could cash out through PayPal. Given that winning often results in a lot less than that and many players win only rarely, if at all, there was plenty of money that was never claimed. Due to criticism of that system, on January 26, 2018, the minimum required amount to cash out was eliminated.
The game is backed by venture capitalists and investors but it’s pretty clear that it isn’t making any money—there are no ads and the questions don’t appear to be sponsored. At least not yet. The goal for the creators—who sold Vine to Twitter in 2012 for $30 million—is to grow the app and then consider how to work with businesses. Or maybe they’ll just sell it to Facebook or Snapchat and consider the millions of dollars in their pockets a pretty good payout for a game that isn’t any more complicated than simple trivia they can probably find on the internet.
For most people, it’s not really about winning a lot of money—although now that the Sunday games come with the possibility of walking away with $25,000 that could change. It’s about the glory, and of course, the bragging rights.