In October 2017 HQ Trivia was released on iOS with an intriguing premise: you download the app, sign on at certain times each day, and participate as a contestant in a live, worldwide trivia game show. If you win, you split a cash prize with all the other winners. Within just a few months the app has taken off on iOS, become available on Android, and spawned a surprising number of imitation apps. Clearly, free money is a great marketing strategy, but it also raises a few questions.
How do these apps make money?
The short answer: they don’t. So far they are all being funded by an existing company or venture capital firm, with the expectation that they will find a way to monetize (translation: ads) after building an audience.
Where did they all come from?
To make a short story shorter, new paid trivia apps have been popping up semi-regularly since HQ launched. Mostly, they’re coming from existing companies that saw a good, potentially profitable idea with low startup costs and decided to jump on board.
Is it really free, and do you win actual money?
Yes and yes. All of the apps are free to play (so far), and most of them pay your winnings directly into your PayPal account.
Is this going to turn into an episode of Black Mirror?
It’s a little too close for comfort.
Here are some of the best Trivia apps to try.
1. HQ Trivia
How it works: There are multiple shows per day, often hosted by the awkwardly charismatic Scott Rogowski. Most shows have twelve questions, and you have to answer them all correctly within the time limit (ten seconds per question) in order to win any money.
Who made it: HQ, the app that started this whole trend, comes from Rus Yusupov and Colin Kroll, formerly the founders of Vine (the now-defunct nine-second video site).
Trivia: No one knows what “HQ” stands for. Theories include “Hype Quiz” and “Hard Questions,” but the founders will not confirm these.
2. Cash Show
How it works: With several shows every day and a more interesting rewards system, this app is probably the most serious HQ competitor. Rather than being paid only if you get all the questions correct, you are paid per question. The first few are non-prize questions, and after that, every question you get right pays you a cut of the prize depending on how many people you’re still in the game with.
Who made it: Cash Show is from the Chinese app developer Zentertain. Their other hit apps include “Word Connect” and “Photo Editor Pro.”
Trivia: Cash Show has a fairly high rate of errors in its questions, from categorizing London as a country to spelling “Baja” as “Baha.”
3. The Q
How it works: The Q sets itself apart from HQ by frequently rotating hosts, giving out hints on their social media and having multiple game modes. The basic premise is the same, though – you have a few seconds to answer a question, and you only split the prize if you have successfully answered all the questions.
Who made it: The CEO is Will Jamieson, who also runs a video streaming company called “Stream” and was a co-founder of Yik Yak, a now-defunct messaging app. Jamieson started The Q after realizing that his video streaming service could provide better quality than HQs.
Trivia: The Q gives out one answer for each game on their social media accounts.
How it works: You have to download the Live.me app to play the game, though you do not have to be a participating member of the Live.me community. The interface can be a little cluttered and confusing, but once you get into the game, everything is pretty standard as far as trivia goes.
Who made it: Live.me is a streaming platform similar to Twitch and is in turn owned by Cheetah Mobile, a massive Chinese app developer behind apps like “Clean Master” and “Battery Doctor.”
Trivia: Live.me also owns the app “Cheez,” which allows users to upload seventeen-second videos (much like Vine) as well as play QuizBiz.
The number of apps jumping on this trend is growing all the time, and this list doesn’t even count the genre’s runaway popularity in China. Here are a few more up-and-coming apps to try out. (And yes, they all pay.)
- Hangtime (Android | iOS)
- Joyride (Android | iOS)
- Genius (iOS)
- Beat the Q (Android | iOS)
- Swag IQ (Android | iOS)
There is no telling how long this trend will last, which apps will stick around for the long haul, or whether this is the beginning of a secret plot to take over the world. These apps are unlikely to make you rich, but if you have a few minutes to spare and a head for trivia, you don’t have much to lose by giving them a try!