hq app game
Courtesy of Intermedia Labs

Intermedia Labs

Million-player game shows

Entertainment in the smartphone age is often a solitary activity, whether it’s binge-watching TV with earbuds in place or tapping away at a one-player game. Intermedia Labs co-founders Rus Yusupov and Colin Kroll set out to explode that paradigm—and with their live app, HQ Trivia, they’ve succeeded wildly. The game’s multiple-choice trivia quiz format is simple, but the live, mass-audience experience is distinctive. Players download the app to their phones, then receive a notification when games are about to begin so that everyone comes together to compete in real time. The broadcasts have made a celebrity of adorkable host Scott Rogowsky and attracted as many as 2.4 million people at once, which HQ says is the largest live audience on a mobile platform. Yusupov says he wanted to find a modern twist on TV from his childhood in the ’90s, when he and friends would get together to watch ABC’s “TGIF” sitcoms and talk about them later. “We want viewers to be participants,” he says. Big marketers see a unique opportunity too; when Warner Bros. wanted to promote its monster film Rampage earlier this year, it partnered with Intermedia to have star Dwayne Johnson guest-host HQ. Yusupov says the company is developing other new programming to build on the live technology, and meanwhile, knock-off trivia competitors have sprung up around the world. “We started as one show,” he says. “Now it’s a whole genre.” —Thomas E. Weber

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