Plain Vanilla Games

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Plain Vanilla Games
Industry Video game industry
Founded 2010
Founder Þorsteinn B. Friðriksson
Headquarters Reykjavík, Iceland
Key people
Þorsteinn B. Friðriksson (CEO)
Products Video games
Parent Glu Mobile

Plain Vanilla Games is an Icelandic game studio based in Reykjavík and in San Francisco, best known as the studio behind QuizUp, at the time the fastest growing iPhone game in history.[1][2]


CEO Þorsteinn B. Friðriksson, a former TV presenter who has an Oxford MBA (2009), founded the company in late 2010. It published its first title The Moogies for pre-schooled aged kids on the App store in November 2011 but although critically acclaimed the game turned out to be a major flop which left Plain Vanilla indebted. Looking for a second product, Þorsteinn had realized that popular games like Words with Friends and Draw Something merely modified already existing analog games. And while a mobile version of Trivial Pursuit was already on the market, it seemed rudimentary to him, lacking topical range and social interaction.

He went to San Francisco to sell his idea but first ran into a wall of negativity: "It… wasn't easy. I thought I'd just charm my way in front of these VCs, share my big idea for a quiz platform, and they'd throw money my way. Not quite. Just connecting with the right people was a challenge. I'd cold call and ask for meetings, and they'd maybe be willing to set something up for 2, 3 months later. I had to be creative to get in front of these VCs. It maybe even bordered on stalking. In hindsight, maybe it was a bit creepy." [3] In the end he sought out compatriot David Helgason, the CEO of game development company Unity Technologies and with his endorsement received $1.2 million in seed funding. In 2012, he managed to convince an affiliate of Lions Gate Entertainment (LGF) to partner with Plain Vanilla on a trial trivia game for the Twilight series. The game, released in November 2012, was a hit with about 2 million registered users who gave the company valuable feedback. Sequoia Capital started backing them as investors and Plain Vanilla added their partner Roelof Botha to its board, just like Ellie Wheeler of Greycroft Partners, Chinese Tencent also became a strategic partner. The QuizUp app was launched in November 2013 for iPhones.


In 2016, Plain Vanilla began a downfall as fewer users played their game QuizUp due to its lack of retention. They still made revenue, but saw a loss in profit. In September of that year, they closed their Iceland offices and laid off all of their employees. CEO Þorsteinn B. Friðriksson has stated they will continue development of QuizUp, but are also looking for a buyer to keep the game running smoothly.[4] Plain Vanilla Corp. and QuizUp was acquired by Glu Mobile on 19 December 2016, the deal valued at 7.5 million USD, including forgiven debt.[5]

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