On April 1, Netflix entered new territory by launching its first interactive quiz show. The quiz experience, which is based on the popular mobile game Trivia Crack (opens in new tab), is titled Trivia Quest, and just like the app, the show is a bright, colorful adventure.
The game is simple. Each episode of Trivia Quest features 24 questions, 12 in standard mode and 12 in hard. The questions come from several categories including sports, science, history, entertainment, art and geography. Each question is multiple choice, with four potential answers to choose from. The goal, as you might expect, is to answer the questions correctly.
By answering questions correctly, you help liberate friends of the show’s protagonist, Willy, a massive, walking Trivial Pursuit board with a big smile on its face. Willy is on a mission to rescue his fellow Trivia Land citizens, who've been captured and taken hostage by a knowledge-hungry villain that goes by the name of Evil Rocky.
Rocky is a large sword that shakes his fist at you every time you successfully free one of Willy’s pals. Players have the option of replaying quizzes and correctly answering missed questions to earn extra points.
At the moment, Trivia Quest is available to play on android phones and tablets, iPhones, iPads, iPod Touches, most smart TVs, game consoles and web browsers.
Interactive elements of this game are not available for viewers who access Netflix through Apple TV, certain Chromecast devices, Windows, and browsers using Silverlight.
On April 1, when this interactive experience went live, I decided to try it out for myself to see if it could compete with Wordle, Heardle or my latest discovery, Box Office Game (opens in new tab). After all, with new episodes dropping every day, Wordle-like, how could it be bad?
Boy, could it be. Before we get into that, let's explore why Netflix is going down this path in the first place.
Why is Netflix making quizzes?
Why does Netflix even care about quizzes? Well, frankly speaking, it wants all of your time. Reed Hastings, Netflix’s head honcho, recently declared that as far as he was concerned, the company's real competitors were people going to sleep (opens in new tab), rather than Disney Plus or HBO Max.
Remember when Netflix just wanted to send you a few DVDs a month and take maybe a few hours of your Friday or Saturday nights? Then the entertainment company started taking up more of your time with its streaming services. The app saw you watching during commutes to work and back home. Well now, the company would like to see you on the platform all day.
Netflix wants their content to be your next Wordle, entertaining you whenever you're bored, keeping you coming back for more, day after day. Your interest increases their number of subscribers; increasing numbers of engaged viewers looks good on investor reports; and good numbers all around increase the likelihood advertisers will come running if and when they decide to add in some ads.
All that said, if the games and interactive experiences are fun, who cares? Part of Wordle’s charm was its lo-fi start-up nature, but the reason why so many people got hooked on it - and weren't scared off when it sold for big money to the New York Times - is because the game is entertaining.
But is Trivia Quest fun? Does it deserve your time? In a word, no.
Why Trivia Quest viewers won't come back for more
I've played Trivia Quest every day since it launched, at first out of curiosity, but then, pretty quickly, only out of duty because I'd decided to write this piece. The interactive quiz show is a pedestrian, unambitious, and, quite frankly, boring offering.
The questions in standard mode are pretty easy for anybody with a passing amount of general knowledge. They’re a bit harder, as you might expect, in hard mode, but nothing real quiz buffs wouldn't be able to handle easily.
Each episode has its own theme and the questions are usually organized around that theme. On a Netflix-themed episode, the Demogorgon from Stranger Things made an appearance. But beyond this appearance, the show lacks personality.
Netflix’s platform is not the best format for a quiz show, however interactive Trivia Quest is. Once you’ve answered a question, there’s an agonizing wait until the next question loads; you can’t skip ahead even if you answer the question quickly, which is something you can do easily on any mobile quiz app.
Additionally, there’s precious little interactivity. Willy doesn’t celebrate when you get a question right or scowl when you get the answer wrong; and Rocky doesn’t give you any discouragement. The format has the feel of a charmless pub quiz machine - without the prospect of winning any money.
I don’t know who the target audience is for this new interactive experience. It’s too easy for trivia addicts; too bland and child-like for adult game night; and not entirely family-friendly.
Maybe, just maybe, this interactive quiz show could be fun, if you got to play against other people, say, or if you could battle random and anonymous Netflix subscribers - but alas, those aren't possibilities. You can’t even enter your name or share your score, the latter being one of Wordle’s great strengths.
Netflix might be able to up the ante if it actually offered some rewards for playing. It needn’t be actual cash, but we'd love free subscription periods, or early access to popular shows like Ozark or The Umbrella Academy. Now, that’d be worth playing for.
Maybe Netflix will learn a lot from this first foray into interactive games and introduce games in the near future that really expand its subscriber base and keep us plugged in day after day. But based on what we see right now on Trivia Quest? They've got a long way to go.