China’s biggest tech companies are putting their money where there mouth is by offering their customers real cash prizes to draw millions of contenders to mobile-based online quiz shows.
6 million people at a time log into the free, live games on their smartphones to answer a series of rapid-fire questions in an elimination battle, with those remaining sharing the prize money and its become a sensation with many in the western world hoping tech companies here follow suit.
Baidu Inc and video game maker NetEase Inc launched their own online shows, joining news feed platform Toutiao, Alibaba Group Holding Ltd-owned UCWeb and Wang Sicong despite China’s crackdown on Internet addiction where regulators are trying to restrict China’s growing desire for online mobile entertainment.
The apps are also yet to be monetized, as the mobile gaming industry in China is estimated to be valued in the billions.
“I heard about this game from a friend who won 1,700 yuan in one day. I immediately decided to join up myself,” Wang Ting, a 26-year-old graduate student in Qingdao, told Reuters. She now spends three hours each day on her phone playing the games.
Questions, read by a live host, might include: “From which country were pineapples imported to China in the 16th century?” “In which dynasty was the lamb hot pot invented?” or “How many fingers does Mickey Mouse have?”
Contestants get 10 seconds – a time frame designed cut out cheating – to select the correct answer from a choice of three. Winnings can be up to 3 million yuan per game, but are often split between many winners.
“If you ask me why I do this, to be honest, I don’t really know if I can make money,” Zhou Hongyi, chairman of Qihoo, said at an event where he presented a contestant with a 1 million yuan ($156,115.84) prize cheque two weeks ago. “But from a user’s perspective, I think this is really fun.”