If you’re one of the millions of people with an iPhone, chances are you’re playing “HQ Trivia,” the outrageously popular iPhone game that pairs a live host with a daily trivia show where players can win real money.
But if you’re an Android user like me, you’re looking on with jealousy from the sidelines. I’ve got a Google Pixel, and that means I can’t play “HQ Trivia” until it arrives on Android on December 25. What’s an Android user to do with the weeks between now and then?
The answer is “The Q,” a very similar live-trivia game show that’s available right now on Android.
After playing a few games of “The Q” last week, I’m here to tell you what it is and what it isn’t.
“The Q” is not “HQ Trivia.”
Despite the naming convention, there is no connection between “HQ Trivia” and “The Q.” They are otherwise very similar games.
When I first opened the app, it asked that I sign in with my existing Facebook login. I obliged, and it pushed me to the next screen. There, I was able to select my own username so that my Facebook name didn’t show up.
Unfortunately, this name was a bit too long.
Since “The Q” has fewer players than “HQ Trivia,” I was able to easily secure “bengilbert.”
This past weekend, for instance, “HQ Trivia” hit an all-time high of around 470,000 concurrent players in a single game. “The Q” never topped 1,000 concurrent players in any of the games I played.
The prize payouts are significantly lower than “HQ Trivia,” but it’s logical given the smaller userbase.
The biggest prize available in a single game of “HQ Trivia,” thus far, has been $US10,000. That prize was split between 102 players, with each winner actually winning about $US98.
In “The Q,” prizes are in the $US1,000 range – and often are lower. With only 500 or 600 people tuning in to a game, the prizes are logical. In so many words, there’s a much lower chance of lots of people completing the usual round of questions because the overall group of players is far smaller.
That’s good news for you: You’ve got a much better chance of winning the entire payout, statistically speaking.
Like with “HQ Trivia,” “The Q” warns players ahead of a game with phone notifications.
I started getting notifications well ahead of the first game I played. Of course, you can turn them off if you don’t like being bothered, but it’s not overly insistent.
The suspense builds!
OK, here we go!
One of several hosts I encountered was this pleasant woman with a charming accent.
A major part of “HQ Trivia” being so good is its main host, Scott Rogowsky. He’s charming, and able to riff on the script he’s reading. He knows what to do if there’s a technical glitch that keeps the game from progressing, which there inevitably will be.
“The Q” hosts don’t come across as comfortable – especially when compared to Rogowsky, the figurehead of “HQ Trivia.”
“The Q” follows the same green screen format that “HQ Trivia” does.
At the heart of both “HQ Trivia” and “The Q” is a simple format: one person (the host) standing in front of a green screen reading a script that progresses along a set of timed questions. Players have a short period of time to answer questions, and if you get one wrong, you’re out.
What “The Q” lacks is the charm – the soul, if you will – that “HQ Trivia” has.
The game isn’t just a phenomenon because it’s a great concept. That’s certainly part of the appeal, but the other piece of that equation is the cult of personality that’s developed around the main host of “HQ Trivia.” There’s a jargon that “HQ Trivia” players take on (“HQties,” as they’re known). That jargon is largely derived from Rogowsky, who fans tune in for.
There’s a lack of genuine enthusiasm in “The Q.”
Something crucial about hosting a trivia show is riffing on the questions.
Ahead of the question above, for instance, a reference was made to long-time “Dragon Ball Z” fans. It sounded like ad copy – the kind of on-the-nose stuff that stands out as disingenuous.
Mechanically speaking, the question isn’t out of the host’s mouth before time is up.
I lost at “The Q” at least once because I didn’t answer fast enough. Silly me: I was waiting for the question to finish being read. What I should have done is read the question as fast as possible and immediately answer.
That’s because “The Q” has an issue where the brief timer starts running and completes before the host can finish getting the question out. That resulted in me attempting to read the question and all the answers while the host was speaking, thus making it more difficult to focus. It’s something that could be easily fixed, but was tremendously frustrating at first blush.
Like “HQ Trivia,” “The Q” lets you see a constantly updating breakdown of how many players answered correctly.
Since this is general trivia, the questions are all over the place — from history to geology to pop culture.
It’s clear that “The Q” is a clone — it came out months after “HQ Trivia” was already established — but it’s a perfectly serviceable app, at least for the next few weeks.
I’m pretty much only ok with playing “The Q” because I can’t yet play “HQ Trivia.” I am, admittedly, a sucker for this kinda thing – I was an avid “1 vs 100” player back on Xbox 360 (the spiritual predecessor to stuff like this), and I grew up on “You Don’t Know Jack (YDKJ).”
That said, what all those games share beyond being trivia games is personality.
What made “1 vs 100” so special wasn’t just that it was a massive shared experience (like “HQ Trivia”), but that its host Chris Cashman was ridiculous. The same thing can be said for “YDKJ,” a game that was entirely driven by its insane personality – admittedly, “YDKJ” is also a really great trivia game.
“HQ Trivia” shares that same mix of accessible trivia-show concept with a zany host. “The Q” does not – it’s all the structure of “HQ Trivia” with none of the guts. That said, it’s a reasonable stand-in for a few weeks until “HQ Trivia” launches on Android.
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