How to make HQ Trivia better based on our lessons from TV game shows

3 tips on how live trivia apps can improve their experience

Geert Faber
Jan 29, 2018 · 5 min read

HQ Trivia is attracting millions of players for their daily live trivia game. And now that they seem to have fixed most of their scale and lag issues, let’s take a look at the gameplay and app experience. Based on our experience working on interactive apps for many popular game shows in the TV industry we defined 3 ways to improve live trivia game apps.

1. Make leaderboards and scores more relevant

Leaderboards are a great way to motivate players but most leaderboards are not relevant for 99% of the players. When you’re placed 262.306th out of 742.236 players it’s very unlikely you will end up on a relevant ‘bragging’ spot on any daily, weekly or monthly ranking.

It becomes very difficult to rank when you only score points when you win the game or answer all questions correctly. To solve this you can introduce different leaderboards with different scores. For example a leaderboard with the total money won but also a leaderboard based on correct answers. You can also increase the number of points when the questions become more difficult or reward players that answer quickly.

And finally you can group players based on shared characteristics. For example man VS woman, competition between states, group players by age etc. This not only allows players to rank higher within a specific group but makes it possible to compare themselves. You might not have a significant ranking with the people in Ohio but you would make top 100 in California.

We applied this in the “What Do I Know” application where viewers at home can play-along with a fast paced trivia quiz on TV. After each round of 10 questions players can compare themselves with the other players’ gender, location and age.

The “What Do I Know” app

2. Play against friends and family

Another way to create more competition is to allow players to compete against friends, family, colleagues and other groups. This can be done by integrating a friends list in the app, syncing with Facebook or by creating local leagues for which people can invite each other. This way you’re not only competing against all players but you can see directly how you’re doing against people close to you.

A great example of this is the work we did for Winview. This sports app allows you to predict plays in real-time to score points when you watch NFL, NBA or MMA games on TV.

Viewers enter contests, every quarter, predicting the outcome of the plays on TV, just before they actually happen. Players are grouped together in random rooms of 20 players but users can also create their own leagues.

So now you’re not only playing in the general room but also against your leagues and friends from a single game. It’s a great way to entice players in your league to open the app and start playing against your friends, sports team, and family to win the bragging rights at the dinner table.

As a next step you can allow players within a group to chip in money for the prize pool. This way players have an actual chance of winning the game while making playing more fun. This creates a new commercial model for the app (taking a percentage of the pool) while increasing the value for the players.

3. New game modes

And finally, to make the game more dynamic you can introduce new game modes. HQ Trivia has been trying this by increasing the questions for a higher prize (15 questions to win $15.000) but you can get more creative. Its competitor The Q for example tried games with ‘last man standing’ in which they kept playing until a single player was left.

But also the trivia format can be enriched. Jeopardy is one of the longest running trivia shows and allows the players to choose the topic and value of the question. And ‘Don’t Ask Me Ask Britain’ asks all the viewers to vote in real-time on a topic. The teams have to guess what the nation is thinking.

Real-time results from the viewers is visualized in the studio and is the answer for the teams.

Or just take a look at the popular game shows on channels like Buzzr or Game Show Network (GSN) to see how different questions and game formats can create a completely new experience. This includes introducing new types of questions (e.g. higher/lower questions, estimate questions, ranking questions), introducing different rounds within the game, or adding life lines (e.g. ask the audience, 50/50).

Want to know more about our experience building apps for TV shows? Do you want to make your live streaming interactive? Or do you want to create your own low latency live trivia app? Make sure to contact us.

PlayTrivia is the white label live trivia solution that blends questions, quizzes, and the live production into a single easy-to-use interface. Find out more about PlayTrivia on our website.

Want to read more? Check how we can help you to launch your own interactive live streaming app:

P.S. Ex Machina is growing and looking for passionate developers, designers and project managers in Amsterdam , Rotterdam and Montreal. Check all open positions on our website.

TV game show Jeopardy debuted in 1964


The best insights from the Ex Machina Team. We develop innovative, interactive, multiscreen solutions for brands, media, and e-commerce companies. Our concepts, designs, apps, and platforms reach tens of millions of users, powering thousands of hours of interactivity worldwide.

Thanks to Jeroen Elfferich

Geert Faber

Written by

I work at @exmachinagroup and @ComingNextTV with media companies to create engaging and interactive formats. Predicts the @endoftelevision as we know it.


The best insights from the Ex Machina Team. We develop innovative, interactive, multiscreen solutions for brands, media, and e-commerce companies. Our concepts, designs, apps, and platforms reach tens of millions of users, powering thousands of hours of interactivity worldwide.

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