HQ Trivia: What You Need to Know

Are your friends taking breaks at 3 p.m. and 9 p.m. every day to gather around an iPhone? They're probably playing HQ, a recent sensation on smartphones in which they play trivia for real money. The rules are simple, the host is personable and the lure of a real cash prize brings hundreds of thousands of people to the table.

Credit: HQ Trivia

(Image credit: HQ Trivia)

Want to get up to speed? Here's what you need to know about HQ, including an update on the much-anticipated Android version.

What is HQ Trivia?

HQ Trivia is a live trivia app that you play for real money. The game goes live at 3 p.m. and 9 p.m. EST on weekdays and 9 p.m. EST on weekends. The game is hosted by comedian Scott Rogowsky, though he occasionally has substitutes, including British broadcast personality Sharon Carpenter.

What are the rules?

The game consists of 12 multiple choice trivia questions, ranging from easy to devastatingly hard (the latter have been labeled "savage questions" by the hosts). You have roughly ten seconds to answer each question, starting from when the host begins reading it. HQ's creators suggest this keeps the questions from being Google-able (I've found that they're right.) Everyone who completes all 12 questions split the jackpot. If no one wins, it carries over to the next game.

How much money can I win?

When the game debuted in August, jackpots were around $100, but they have since ballooned to regular games for $250 and now $1,000. Every once in a while, a game will go much higher, including a recent set for a grand prize of $15,000. Of course, if you win, you're likely splitting it with other winners.

You can cash out with a PayPal account. Previously, the app wouldn't pay you until you collected $20 in prize money, which could take several wins. Now, it doesn't matter how much you have, you can cash out whenever you want.

Recently, HQ has been giving out larger prizes on Sunday nights, so you'll have a chance to win more money, but there are also far more people playing.

Why are people using the #deleteHQ hashtag?

On February 2, Recode reported that HQ raised $15 million from Founders Fund, a venture capital firm headed up by Peter Thiel, for a valuation of $100 million. Thiel, a cofounder of PayPal, was a backer of President Donald Trump and secretly backed a lawsuit by wrestler Hulk Hogan (real name Terry Bollea) to bankrupt Gawker. While the round is being led by partner Cyan Banister, Thiel's unpopularity is some circles led to a lot of people deleting the apps from their phones and using the #deleteHQ hashtag on social media.

You mentioned iPhones. Is there an Android version? What about tablets?

Initially, HQ was only available on iPhones, but an Android version became available in early 2018. You can download it here. In March of 2018, the game got a native iPad version, but it doesn't add any features.

How do I get extra lives?

While HQ used to hand out extra lives, now you seemingly only get them by referring friends. Give them your referral code, which is identical to your username. When they plug it in, you'll get a second chance in your next game.

Are there any special games?

HQ has been trying new types of games, including a recent battle royale where the game kept going until one person won. Additionally, a recent sponsorship with Nike led to a larger jackpot and winners receiving HQ-themed Nike Air Maxes. In April, Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson is hosting an episode with a $300,000 prize to promote his movie Rampage.

What's with all of the memes?

HQ has a chat on the bottom, and boy is it active. I mean, it's really something else. If you find it annoying, you can swipe it away, but its also the breeding ground for a bunch of weirdness. Chat is where fans started calling Rogowsky "quiz daddy," and started continuously writing the phrases "dink fam" and "Fish Squad Worldwide," neither of which I understand.

There's also a lot of horror in the chat, too, with people writing derogatory statements about all types of minority groups, seemingly for no reason. Some people get banned, but that hasn't stopped the behavior.

You may have recently heard of a similar game, The Q, which has received some buzz. It's an HQ clone with fewer players (for now), far less charismatic hosts, poorer production values and a smaller prize pool (usually $500 or less). But it's on both iOS and Android, so it planted a flag on the trivia app landscape on Android before HQ did.

Andrew E. Freedman

Andrew E. Freedman is an editor at Tom's Hardware focusing on laptops, desktops and gaming as well as keeping up with the latest news. He holds a M.S. in Journalism (Digital Media) from Columbia University. A lover of all things gaming and tech, his previous work has shown up in Kotaku, PCMag, Complex, Tom's Guide and Laptop Mag among others.