Logo of the HQ app
HQ (also HQ Trivia and Words) is an app and trivia game, released on August 26, 2017 for iOS and later for Android on December 31, 2017. Players can participate at no cost in daily trivia games through which they can outright win or split prize money if they can correctly answer a series of questions of increasing difficulty. Players have ten seconds to answer each multiple-choice question.
HQ was developed by Vine creators Rus Yusupov and Colin Kroll. Its primary host is Scott Rogowsky, who broadcasts from New York City, New York. Additional hosts include Sharon Carpenter (who is also the main host for the British games), Sarah Pribis, Matt Richards, David Magidoff, Sian Welby, Alexandra Maurer (regular host for the German games), Leonie Zeumer, Lara Falkner, Kathryn Goldsmith, Anna Roisman (regular host of HQ Words), Lyndsey Rodrigues, and, exclusively for the British games, Beric Livingstone.
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The app takes the form of a live game show, which usually airs at 9PM US Eastern Time daily, with another show at 3PM US Eastern on weekdays.Recently, most of regional games tend to air at 9PM local time and the 3PM game's only take place on Tuesday's and Thursday's. HQ Trivia has also discontinued Germany, Australia, and U.K. games. If multiple people correctly answer all 12 questions, the prize is split between all the respective winners. Often the prize can be split between as many as 3,000 people; however, in some extreme cases, there can be as many as 80,000 winners, or no winners at all. If there are no winners, that day's prize money is rolled over and added to the next day's prize.
The host asks a series of usually twelve increasingly difficult multiple choice questions, each with three possible answers. Players who get a question correct within the 10-second limit move on; the rest are eliminated. It is common for a game to have 12 or 15 questions. Any question that eliminates the vast majority of players is deemed a "savage question" (though some hosts do not do this). Players that correctly answer all questions split the prize money. Originally, the prize for games from Monday through Saturday was $250 but since has increased to $5,000, with a $25,000 prize on Sundays and a $2,500 prize on weekday afternoons. Occasionally, Sundays, holidays, and special events have had prizes up to $400,000. The creators have stated that they plan to someday increase prizes to $1,000,000.
Players can earn "extra lives" by inviting friends to sign up for the game using referral codes or playing 5 days in a row. If at any time except for the final question the player failed to answer the question correctly, the player can use the "extra life" to return to the game; however, the "extra life" can be used only once in one game. Once used, the "extra life" is no longer valid. “Extra lives” can also be purchased. This menu is accessible through the homepage of HQ Trivia by tapping on the Extra Life heart icon. Users can purchase one Extra Life or a pack of three. After the Extra Lives are purchased, the heart in the top center of this screenshot will update to reflect the updated quantity. A purchased Extra Life would be able to be used in the next game a player enters, but a player can only use one Extra Life per game. Each (both purchased and non-purchased) Extra Life can only be used once, and must be associated with an account, as the usage of an Extra Life is specific to an account's game-play. Currently, this feature is only available on iOS devices. In addition, players can earn "erasers" which when tapped upon during a question, will eliminate one of the wrong answers giving the player a 50/50 shot of getting the question right. Erasers can only be earned by playing near two other players.
On March 11, 2018, HQ introduced a new "1 Winner Takes All" format for its Sunday night game. In this version of the game, the host continues asking questions until only one player remains to claim the entire cash prize. The "extra life" is unavailable after the 15th question. If a question eliminates all remaining players, the game ends without a winner and the prize money rolls over to the following Sunday's game. The highest number of questions asked so far in this format is 27 on the March 18, 2018, show, which ended with no winner.
On March 26, 2018, in partnership with Nike, HQ gave away special Nike Air Maxes to all the winners. Also, on April 11, in partnership with Warner Bros. in promotion for the movie Rampage starring Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson, HQ gave away $300,000. Their largest prize to date is $400,000 in recognition of the NBA Finals in Game 4.
On October 21, 2018, HQ introduced "The 100," a game mode in which the host continues to ask questions until there are 100 or fewer players remaining. Those remaining players split the $25,000 grand prize, with each player receiving at least $250. Another variation of the "The 100", called the "The 8" was introduced on the December 2, 2018 show. The same rules apply, with the game ending when there are 8 or less players remaining, with each winner of the $25,000 grand prize getting at least $3,125.
On November 14, 2018, HQ partnered with Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald to give away a prize of $50,000 and a private screening of the new film. The game consisted of 15 questions, several of which were Savage, or "Severius", Questions. A total of 229 players won, with the private screening going to one of the 229.
HQ is available worldwide on the iOS App Store and Google Play, with live shows targeted to North American, UK, German and Australian audiences. Average numbers of participants range from 200,000 to 400,000, and with over 500,000 concurrent players every Sunday. The app’s record high of concurrent players was 2.38 million in 28th March 2018. The UK, German and Australian games have been cancelled and haven't been on since.
HQ has been criticized for its method of paying winners. Some players or previous winners may have a grey cash-out button. A grey cash-out button means that either the player hasn't won anything or they are soft-banned from the game due to "bot checking". For iOS users, some winners will have the cash-out button gray. For Android users, the cash-out button can be clicked, but it will display a message saying that they need $0.01 more to cash-out even though they have won the game. Typically, victorious players receive under $1, although payouts have on occasion gotten as high as $100,000 and a pair of HQ Nike sneakers. In order to cash out and receive their winnings through a PayPal deposit, winners previously needed to have achieved a "minimum prize balance" of $20 accumulated within a period of 90 days, or all prior winnings are forfeited, per the game's terms of service. Starting on January 26, 2018, during the 3 pm EST show, it was announced that there would be no minimum amount to cash out.
The iOS and Android apps have also experienced many technical glitches as the app has grown in popularity, sparking outrage from players. In addition, users have complained of lagging, freezing, and premature elimination during game-play, which on several occasions, including January 22, 2018, and May 8, 2018, became so severe the game was postponed to address the difficulties.
Creators Rus Yusupov and Colin Kroll have sought to attract investors and venture capitalist firms to fund HQ with the intent of landing a post-money valuation as high as $100 million. However, the pair's prior split from Twitter has caused issues; Kroll departed the social media site in 2014 after accusations of incompetence and alleged inappropriate behavior towards women, and Yusupov was laid off in 2015, giving potential investors reasons for pause. As of December 2017[update], HQ's fundraising prospects are ongoing and its parent company, Intermedia Labs, is still in talks with potential investors. On December 16, 2018, Kroll was found dead from an apparent drug overdose in his Manhattan apartment.
The game won the A-Train Award for Best Mobile Game at the New York Game Awards 2018.
Time magazine awarded it "App of the year" for 2017.
Spin-offs and analogues
On May 31, 2018, HQ introduced HQ Sports, a spinoff game in which players answer sports trivia questions. HQ Sports is hosted by Lauren Gambino, co-host of the fantasy football web show "Offsides". HQ Sports is usually played every Monday and Wednesday at 8:00 pm ET. The standard top prize for HQ Sports shows is $1,000.
In December of 2018, HQ Trivia launched a spinoff of their original app called "HQ Words", a word puzzle game. Players first spin a wheel in order to receive a free letter which automatically appears for them if their letter appears in a specific puzzle. Players are then asked a series of 10 puzzles in which players try to guess letters in order to complete the word or short sentence. If a player gets 3 letters wrong in a puzzle, they are eliminated from the game. On February 13, 2019. HQ Words started a new game mode where instead of having 3 strikes per puzzles, you have 10 strikes in total that you can use how you want. Using an extra life gives you another 10 strikes but after using all 10 up or not solving the puzzle in time, you're eliminated from the game. The standard prize for HQ Words is $1,000 but has made its way up to $10,000 in the past. HQ Words is hosted by comedian, Anna Roisman, but has been guest hosted by Matt Richards and Neil Patrick Harris.
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- @HQTrivia (22 January 2018). "We ran into an issue starting today's game. Sorry for any inconvenience. You'll be notified when we restart shortly" (Tweet). Retrieved 22 January 2018 – via Twitter.
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- "The Top 10 Apps of 2017", Alex Fitzpatrick, Time magazine