"One of the things HQ has going for it, even if you're doing poorly, is it's a lottery," Pacquet explained. "Someone, even doing nothing at all, has a chance of winning just by guessing things randomly. Most of us aren't in that boat -- so if you know even half the questions and have some lucky guesses, you could go through. And since it's free, all it costs is ten minutes to play."
Donahue, on the other hand, isn't convinced that HQ will be around for the long haul. He believes the app might even be a victim of its own success.
"I got lucky at the right time. I won when HQ wasn't super popular, so I didn't have to split my small fortune much. Now HQ might be getting too saturated," Donahue said. "I think everyone keeps playing because they want to do what I did, which is win a few thousand dollars. But now that over a million people are playing, HQ has to be giving out $100,000 at a time to have people coming back."
Donahue and Paquet's relatively large winnings are the exception: the majority of games involve payouts averaging $10, since there are many more winners. But for now, at least, many players aren't as preoccupied with the quantity of the prize as they are with the satisfaction and pride of completing all 12 questions. A video of a girl freaking out after winning $11 even went viral.