HQ trivia expands to Google Assistant for voice-first trivia

HQ is cozying up with Google.

Most famous for viral app HQ trivia, the company is launching an “action” for Google Assistant called HQ University on Feb. 11. The game is quite similar to HQ trivia: Players answer 12 questions that get increasingly challenging. Players are walked through the game with HQ trivia host Scott Rogowsky and teacher’s assistant Fredo (a voice bot).

However, people playing HQ University don’t have the chance to win cash. The game is intended to help users get better at playing trivia. The game is available on Google Home, Smart Displays that have Google Assistant and the Google Assistant app on smartphones. Even though it’s a voice-first experience, players using Smart Display or Android phones will have special interactions on their screens.

This game is part of an ongoing sponsorship deal between Google and HQ, which began last year. HQ declined to share how much Google has paid, so far.

HQ’s move to expand to Google Assistant comes as the company looks to build a media business. The app quickly gained traction, attracting more than 1 million players per game at the end of 2017, but it has since lost some of that momentum. The fad has faded, and HQ is now facing competition from The Q and Facebook. The company behind HQ has raised $15 million in venture capital funding, led by the Founders Fund. Disney also has invested in the company.

HQ has been expanding its product portfolio with an Apple TV app launched in August 2018, as well as new spinoff games such as HQ Sports and HQ Words.

Creating a voice-first experience is another way for HQ to expand.

“Google is one of the most innovative brands in the world. We believe in the power of voice and how Google Assistant can impact people’s lives. Partnering with Google to bring HQ to fans on demand to practice their trivia skills was a no-brainer,” said Brandon Teitel, svp, programming and partnerships at HQ.

While the initial hype has faded, HQ is still attracting a large live audience every day. On Feb. 7, more than 500,000 people played the nightly game that was sponsored by Lego.

The company has been experimenting with different game formats and prizes. HQ trivia has introduced awarding users points for each question they get correct. These points translate into levels, which allow users to get questions wrong but still move on to the next questions in future games. The company recently experimented with hosting games that didn’t have a cash prize and only awarded users points, but they reserved that decision after some backlash. Indeed, audience sizes seem to depend on the prize pool.

Google has been focusing on growing its smart speakers and voice product, as it competes with Amazon’s Echo products with Alexa, Apple’s Siri and Microsoft’s Cortana. Publishers, including BuzzFeed, have been investing in Google’s voice-first products. CBS Sports and The Guardian also have built actions for Google Assistant.

HQ does not currently have plans to launch on other voice-assistant devices, the company said.

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