PETALING JAYA,. The next time you spot friends or strangers hunched over their mobile phones before whooping with laughter and excitement — or even frustration — around lunchtime, you may no longer be surprised.
In fact, you may then even be one of the tens of thousands of Malaysians who are spending around 20 minutes every day racking their brains at noon on a phenomenon that is fast sweeping the country.
These tens of thousands of Malaysians are trying their best to answer 11 questions correctly in 10 seconds on Dooit Live, a Malaysian-made trivia game show app, since it was launched in August this year.
And it is no surprise that Dooit Live keeps drawing people back every day: Each game promises cash prizes for winners.
If you answer a question right, you will receive a share of the pool prize. Say, if there were 100 winners for a RM500 pool, winners would receive RM5 each.
On Merdeka Day this year, the pool was set at RM6,100 to reflect the number of years since Malaysia gained its independence, which is 61. There were 228 winners, each walking away with RM26.
Today’s Deepavali special promises RM2,000 to win.
“We started off with only 30-odd players and now we’re here,” Dooit chief executive officer Brian Foo told Malay Mail, referring to the around 30,000 active users per game the app has garnered.
He said the app has recorded more than 150,000 downloads on Apple’s App Store and Android’s Google Play, where it is ranked fifth in the “entertainment” category in the former.
Malaysia catching up to global trend
This trivia game is part of a bigger global trend that has captured the attention of mobile phone users, regardless of age and background.
In neighbouring Philippines there is Dooit Live’s sister app Paydro Live, where users are given 11 questions each with a 10-second answer span and weekly prizes of PHP200,000 (RM15,666).
Just like Dooit is a pun on “duit”, the Malay word for “money”, Paydro is a pun on Pedro, a common Pinoy name. While Dooit’s logo features a man with the Malay tengkolok headgear, Paydro’s logo wears a trendy scarf tied around his neck.
But both Dooit and Paydro arguably owe their existence to HQ Trivia, the app that came out in August 2017 and has since found millions of devotees in United States, and hundreds of thousands in the United Kingdom.
HQ Trivia was the brainchild of Rus Yusupov and Colin Kroll, who previously birthed Vine, the micro-video sharing platform which similarly spawned its own meme-worthy phenomenon.
All the trivia apps have a similar format: With a host — usually a celebrity or social media influencer — asking users the questions.
The cash prizes in UK range from £500 (RM2,708) to a whopping £300,000 (RM1.6 million), while the United States version has even seen prize pools of up to US$250,000 (RM1.04 million).
As is always the case, China also has a similar version called Millions Winner.
The application backed by internet security company Qihoo 360, offers winnings of up to three million yuan (RM1.81 million) per game, with the same time allocation and questions as Dooit.
Dooit only hosts games on weekdays, their latest game time moving into the second week of November is at noon from Monday to Thursday with a prize pot of RM2,000, while additional night slots are available on Tuesday and Thursday at 9.30pm with the same amount.
Friday’s noon session has RM5,000 up for grabs.
The application has also attracted the participation of companies like llaollao and Damansara’s Beard Brothers’ BBQ which offered cash prizes and free yoghurt to winners.
Dooit has also acquired a few celebrities to play host such as YouTuber Sean Lee Jia Ern and Asia’s Next Top Model runner-up Monika Santa Maria.
Infectious joy of winning
But there is a catch — sort of. To cash out your winnings requires a minimum of RM50, that will be paid in two weeks.
Foo insisted there is more than just the prize money that keeps players returning.
“I don’t think it’s this at all. For me, it’s more of the appointment-based entertainment factor. In a world dominated by streaming services, I think people are just excited to meet up with friends or family to experience something together,” he said.
Part of the joy is also a little taste of fame when you win something, with numerous videos on social media showing users recording themselves winning — even as little as RM1.
Dooit seems to realise this, with its Instagram account regularly featuring these videos of groups of friends playing together, and of people sharing their moments of joy.
Yes, whether it’s a small amount or a large one, if you have enough general knowledge, you could stand a chance to walk away with anything from RM1 to RM300.
Malay Mail tried our luck in a noon game slot, and managed to answer all 11 questions right splitting the pot with about 20,000 other users. We walked away with 90 sen extra in our digital pocket.
“It’s the winning feeling and it’s the thrill of the game that gets people hooked. People are always commenting on how even if they didn’t win, they still gained valuable knowledge, so I don’t think it’s the money,” he said.
Can the gravy train run forever?
With thousands of ringgit involved in each session for the cash prizes, Foo has, however, kept mum over the source of money.
He insisted that the topic will be broached in the near future, but promised users that there are “more exciting things in store” come next year.
As for Dooit’s inspiration HQ Trivia, there are already reports saying that its viral hype may be over — just a couple months after reaching its first year of operation.
HQ Trivia has fallen from the Top 10 list of most-downloaded free iPhone games to somewhere between 250th and 500th place in the US. Its audience has also shrunk considerably compared to when it was at its peak popularity.
This would suggest that Dooit too may have just as limited a time to reap rewards.
With the clock ticking, it is, however, almost certain that Dooit Live will continue to be the talk of the town for now, as every sen counts and Malaysians hope to grab their share.