One-time App Store sensation HQ Trivia has been thrown a lifeline after the company behind it initially announced that it was shutting down. On Twitter, HQ CEO and co-founder Rus Yusupov said that, after negotiations, they have found a tentative new home for the business.
“We have found a new home for HQ, with a company that wants to keep it running,” Yusupov wrote. “All employees, contractors and players are top priority. Severance will be paid and you will be able to cash out.”
In a follow-up tweet, Yusupov noted that it is “not a done deal yet, but I’m optimistic.” He continued that “in its new home, we should expect HQ to go through some changes, especially to cover expenses, and be less buggy.”
The rise and fall of HQ Trivia
HQ Trivia debuted for iOS in August 2017, and Android a few months later in late 2017. The game’s big hook was offering cash prizes to people answering trivia questions. Time magazine ranked it “App of the year” for 2017. At one point, HQ Trivia’s prize pot climbed to $250,000 for a game sponsored by the movie Ready Player One.
Things had been looking a bit tough for a while, however. In 2018, we covered HQ Trivia’s expansion to Apple TV. At the time, my colleague Buster wrote that:
“The app has already been downloaded over 12.5 million times on iOS and Android. Growth of the appears to have slowed a bit though. After being downloaded 2 million times in February, HQ Trivia was only downloaded an estimated 560,000 times in July.”
According to Sensor Tower Store Intelligence estimates provided to Cult of Mac, HQ Trivia was downloaded close to 15.2 million times during its lifetime. The majority of these came in 2018, when it generated an estimated 12.3 million unique installs. In 2019, the figure fell to 1.1 million downloads. In terms of revenue from user spending, the app generated approximately $1.1 million in 2018. This rose to $2.2 million in 2019.
On iOS specifically, lifetime downloads reached approximately 10.2 million downloads, with gross revenue hitting close to $3.4 million. 7.8 million of these downloads came in 2018, while in 2019 the app generated $712,000.
Pulling the plug?
With losses seemingly piling up, HQ Trivia announced its closure at the end of last week. On February 14, 2020, the company that owned HQ Trivia sent a memo to staff stating “effective today, HQ will cease operations and move to dissolution.” This was after, in Yusupov’s words, HQ Trivia “ran out of cash” and a potential acquisition of the company fell through abruptly.
Its bailout, while not yet completed, could give it a lifeline. Whether that changes the underlying mechanics that caused it to go broke in the first place remains to be seen.
“HQ Trivia proved to be a groundbreaking app during its lifetime, attracting not just millions of active users in its heyday, but the attention of top brands keen to advertise in front of them, Craig Chapple, Mobile Insights Strategist, EMEA at Sensor Tower told Cult of Mac. “While the studio ultimately wasn’t able to maintain that popularity, or follow it up with a new hit, HQ Trivia is another example of mobile’s unique possibilities and how it can reach millions of users other media struggle to tap into.”