This HQ copycat wants to help you make friends

Lively, a group video chat app, is adding trivia to its platform in an effort to help users connect. The features sound pretty familiar.

Abrar Al-Heeti Technology Reporter
Abrar Al-Heeti is a technology reporter for CNET, with an interest in phones, streaming, internet trends, entertainment, pop culture and digital accessibility. She's also worked for CNET's video, culture and news teams. She graduated with bachelor's and master's degrees in journalism from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Though Illinois is home, she now loves San Francisco -- steep inclines and all.
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Abrar Al-Heeti
3 min read

It's inevitable that an app as successful as HQ would be mimicked.

The live trivia game, which launched in the fall of last year, reached a milestone of over 1 million players in January. Knockoff "The Q" hit the scene hot on its heels, and other copycats like iQ Live, a trivia game show launching in India, are sure to keep coming.

Lively app's new trivia feature

The new trivia feature on Lively looks a lot like HQ.


On Monday, group video chat app Lively also launched a trivia component. Instead using of money,  it wants to reward you with new friends -- or maybe even a date.

Lively is a product of Zoosk and its in-house incubator, Zoosk Labs. The app, which launched in 2016 on Apple's App Store, was originally geared only toward dating until its makers realized younger millennials weren't just looking for relationships. It shifted the focus toward friendships, which could then potentially turn romantic. Lively's group video chat feature was designed to facilitate these interactions, but most people were still struggling to start conversations and relate to one another.

"Some people would chat for almost an hour, but then a large majority of users didn't have a long conversation at all," says Behzad Behrouzi, senior vice president of product management at Zoosk.

Then HQ started taking off.

"When HQ came out, we really wanted to make it more social. We wanted to play with our friends and talk about it with our friends," Behrouzi said. "We thought, there's a huge opportunity here for us to apply some of that desire to our experience."

So the company relaunched Lively with a focus on trivia. The game features 12 questions and a design that closely resembles that of HQ: There's a circular countdown clock at the top of the screen, options for answers are in elongated ovals and you'll see lots of purple everywhere.

Instead of individuals competing, players are automatically placed onto teams of two to four people, which then compete against each other. There aren't any financial incentives, but Behrouzi says that's something to consider going forward.

Like HQ, Lively also has two daily game sessions: one at 3 p.m. and another at 7 p.m. PT. You won't need to make a mad dash to your phone when it's time to play. Instead, you can join anytime during the 30-minute slot. You also won't be booted out if you answer a question incorrectly.

Players can stick around and chat after the game, or exit if they're not interested. If they want to keep in touch, they can add each other as friends. They'll be able to chat even when there isn't a trivia session.

"You actually are getting to know people. You're getting a sense of who they are, how they talk, what they talk about, and this indirectly drives conversation," Behrouzi said. "It opens the door for a whole lot more engagement."

It's worth noting that HQ isn't the only app from which Lively may have borrowed. The platform also features filters, similar to those found on Snapchat, so that users can sport virtual sunglasses or transform into a lion. Behrouzi says the filters are meant to allow people to express themselves, as well as to instill confidence in anyone who isn't comfortable showing their full face in a video chat.

If you thought the stakes for making a good impression online were high before, this adds a whole other level. Play well, and you could ultimately win someone over.

Let the games begin.

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