HQ Trivia has become a global sensation ever since it first launched in October of 2017. The simple app took the world by storm and now garners millions of users pining to win the insane amounts of cash up for grabs every week- if you're lucky enough to win. Though the app has a dark secret when it comes to how they climbed to the top so quickly.
If you've never heard of the app before, HQ Trivia is a live trivia game app. Once you download the app, several trivia games are run throughout the week that gives you the chance to win some cash. These games are open to anyone who has the app, meaning millions of people log on from across the globe to play.
To win, all you have to do is answer all 12 questions correct, sometimes if you have an extra life you can use that to bring yourself back into the game, but otherwise, the rules of the game are pretty straightforward. The questions start easy but as the game continues they get harder to the point where only a few winners are left in the end.
With cash prizes reaching upwards of hundreds of thousands of dollars, it's no surprise that the game has gathered so much attention. Even though the prize money is split between all of the winners, where in most situations people only win a few dollars, it's still become one of the hottest games around.
Though with the game continuing to offer higher and higher cash prizes the longer it sticks around, fans of the game are starting to wonder exactly how an app like HQ Trivia can stay afloat. They have to pay the hosts, employees who keep the site running, promote the app and pay out the winners with what seems like zero incoming cash to do it all with.
This is where HQ Trivia serves as more than just an example of a successful app, but also as an example of how companies that seem harmless and fun are using your information to make extra money and grow.
You might be wondering what information could be valuable enough that HQ Trivia could be raking in interested buyers for. Especially considering that when you make an account, they don't ask for much information about you in the first place.
It turns out that information as simple as statistics on how many people are playing the game during different rounds depending on the day and time is extremely valuable. As well as other basic statistics such as age, gender, and location of the players who are tuning in.
This kind of information is sold to numerous different kinds of interested companies such as advertisers and brands in general that are curious as to what time period certain people are more likely to be tuning in on their phones.
Another element that helps HQ is the fact that winners can't actually claim their prize unless they've won at least $20 and if you aren't able to accumulate that much in 90 days, the prize money disappears. Considering that most people only win a few cents everytime they do finally win the game, it's presumed that a predominant amount of the advertised prize money ends up going right back into HQ's pocket.
On top of that, with HQ's growing popularity, they've been able to secure some pretty large sponsors such as Nike and Warner Brothers. Take their campaign during the 2018 NBA finals, for example, the app was able to give away a whopping million dollars in prizes throughout the final round between the Golden State Warriors and Cleveland Cavaliers.
It isn't just sponsors that are helping HQ dole out the prices though, back in March, Intermedia Labs, the company behind HQ was able to secure a whopping $15 million in venture funding for the game. Meaning the game is clearly not going to be cheaping out on their prize money offerings any time soon.
While HQ Trivia has grown large enough as an app to be able to secure funding through sponsorships, their roots in regards to generating profits all start with their users. Even one of the creators has mentioned on Twitter how integral users are for the app's success:
While some tech companies are selling your private data, tweaking elections or being called to appear before Congress, we're focused on making advertising something that people actually don't mind.— Rus (@rus) April 10, 2018
By selling simple customer information such as their most popular time slots and who's playing, mixed with the funding of larger companies as the application has continued to grow, the creators of HQ Trivia have managed to create a behemoth of a media business.
If HQ Trivia teaches users anything, it's that apps that seem harmless can still be using your information to turn a profit- even when it seems like they only exist for your entertainment. While it's not the kind of information being shared that makes you want to throw all your technology into a lake and move to a farm, it's definitely something a lot of users aren't actually aware of.
Meaning that the next time you cross HQ or any new gaming app that's gaining traction, you might want to think twice about how they're generating enough money to operate and if your participation has anything to do with it. As well as ultimately asking yourself if that bothers you or not.