Are Live Game Shows the Future of Crypto Gaming?

By Decrypt February 04, 2024 In Solana
Image: Shutterstock

Earlier this week, The Solana Hunger Games took Twitter (aka X) by storm. Now a crypto-fueled version of the TV reality series “Survivor” has people scouring Brooklyn for secret codes, and competing in online arcade games to oust each other from their crypto island.

Dylan Albruscato, former head of partnerships of the breakout mobile game show HQ Trivia, said he leveraged what he learned from the daily trivia show to create Crypto: The Game, which began its first 10-day run on Monday.

“HQ made folks realize that you don’t have to just watch ‘Jeopardy,’ you can participate in it with the entire internet. That’s what I’m trying to convey with this,” he told Decrypt. “I don’t see any reason why you can’t take any traditional format and put it online in a modern, crypto-native way.”

Modeled on “Survivor,” contestants pony up 0.1 ETH (about $230) to play, after which they are assigned to a “tribe”—their team. Every day, the team faces an “immunity challenge,” ranging from competing in arcade games to going on a digital scavenger hunt. Whichever tribe wins the daily challenge gets “immunity;” the other tribes have to vote some of their own players out of the game.


everyone running around trying to figure out what the fucking answer is to “MIDAS, CRYPTO CAPITAL, TOTE BAG, MANIFESTO”

— DeeZe 🫡 (@DeeZe) February 1, 2024

By Wednesday, 410 players had signed up to compete, resulting in a jackpot of 41 ETH (over $94,000) that will be claimed by the last degen standing after 10 days of competition. A new 10-day “season” will follow this one and the next, and on and on as long as there’s interest.

Friday’s challenge was based on whichever tribe could score the highest in Pac-Man. Thursday’s challenge had contestants figuring out clues that ultimately led them to a bookstore in Williamsburg, where a secret code was hidden in a copy of Chris Dixon’s new book, “Read Write Own.” (The bookstore was in on the game, so players who weren’t located near it were able to call in and ask about the code.)

🟠🟠 Orange has won it 🟠🟠

We hid the answer inside a @cdixon (MIDAS) book (MANIFESTO) at the McNally Jackson (TOTE) in Williamsburg (CRYPTO CAPITAL)

And @Christian_Dtmr is an early favorite to win this thing

All other tribes must vote players out tonight…

— Dylan Abruscato (@DylanAbruscato) February 1, 2024

After the first challenge, 10 players were voted off. After the second one, each of the 10 tribes had to vote off five players. The game creators are keeping exactly how many players will be voted off each night a secret in order to “keep players on their toes.”

At the end of the game, everyone who’s been eliminated gets to return and vote on which of the remaining players should be the winner—an interesting game mechanic to disincentivize people from lying, cheating, and conniving their way to victory.

gm. what a wild first night of voting on @cryptothegame_

🟠 had to impossibly decide between @jessepollak & @jasonrosenthal

🔴 had a tribemate named @0xGoodnight & memed him into oblivion

🟣 all went live on @bdguan’s stream to make a consensus vote

🏆 used full randomization

— Dylan Abruscato (@DylanAbruscato) February 1, 2024

Abruscato said he’s always wanted to be a contestant in “Survivor,” and has even gone so far as applying for several seasons, but never got a call back. Creating a crypto version was the next best thing, he said.

HQ Trivia was an online game show and viral sensation that launched in 2017 via a mobile app. Millions of people would tune in at the same time each day and answer trivia questions for a chance to win cash prizes. The competition saw meteoric success, hitting a valuation of $100 million USD in its first six months of existence.

But internal problems between executives, the death of one of its founders, and failure to pay out winners led to its decline and it was shuttered in 2020. However, Abruscato said working there gave him insight into the challenges of using fiat rails for massively online games. Crypto, he thinks, fixes them.

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“At HQ, we saw the pain points of using PayPal to pay our winners firsthand, from long turnaround times to high transaction fees and withdrawal minimums,” he said. “’Crypto fixes this’ has become a meme, but it’s true. I couldn’t imagine building a game that pays its winners on any other payment rail.”

He said he plans to run Crypto: The Game forever and enrollment for Season 2—which he’s calling Anon Island—will be announced after the first season concludes.

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