Spark

This mobile game show is either the future of TV or a hellish dystopia

'HQ' launched last August and has become hugely popular — over 1.2 million people played on the live game show earlier this month — thanks to the promise of cash prizes. But will it last?
HQ is a mobile trivia game that gives players the chance to win cash during an interactive, live game. (HQ)
Listen13:40

Have you downloaded HQ yet? The mobile game show is wildly popular thanks to its promise of cash prizes and its loveable main host Scott Rogowsky (better known to HQuties — the game's contestants — as "Quiz Daddy").

It was created by Vine co-founders Rus Yusupov and Colin Kroll and launched last August. The premise is simple: like Jeopardy! before it, it's a television game show. Players have to tune in at a specified time: 3PM and 9PM Eastern on weekdays, 9PM Eastern on weekends. 

Mike Murphy is a technology reporter for Quartz. (Andrew Arvin)
The difference is that anyone can play and the studio is in their hand.

"I think that there is a meme quality to this, partially because the game looks so crazy — so technicolor," says Mike Murphy, a technology reporter for Quartz about why the game has become so popular. He recently wrote about what the game is and how to play.

Earlier this month, over 1.2 million players joined in simultaneously to play. The game's co-creators have ambitions to make the platform the "future of television" and those hopes might not be far off: in a time when scheduled TV viewing is almost dead, HQ is thriving.

"One thing that HQ has done to try and counteract [that decline] is the fact that they send push notifications when their games are live," says Mike. That'll work for now, he says, "But there is something slightly dystopian about this twice-a-day you'll get notified: 'Log on to win cash.'"

The format works now when we have one app that reminds us to tune in, but what happens when we have 10 or 20 begging us to tune in for a game show, TV drama or news report?

"I don't know how tenable that is as a model."

HQ host Scott Rogowsky in action as players chat in-game.

To hear more, listen to our full conversation with Mike Murphy in the player below.