Cinema app game launches tournament for players in GTA with $5,000 jackpot.
A surprisingly hot development in entertainment in 2018 is the rise of the interactive game show, and interest has been piqued with the addition of the simplest draw imaginable: cold, hard cash.
TimePlay, the app-based game that runs in Cineplex theatres before films, is sweetening the pot by offering cash prizes for the first time in a just-launched promotion.
The cash event, which started on Jan. 26 and runs until February 22 in 14 theatres across the GTA, will see players accumulate points whenever they log in and play, with the top 20 point-getters invited to an in-person showdown on March 17, where there will be $5,000 in total prizes at stake with $2,500 going to the top finisher.
“It is the first time we have used a cash prize. A lot of the prizes in the past have been concessions, or loyalty points, or brands have sponsored content,” says TimePlay vice-president Aaron Silverberg. “So yes, this is the first time that we are putting people to the ultimate test for cash. What we want to is really make something into an event, like people have to go to the cinema and make sure to go early to participate in that.”
TimePlay has been offering its interactive games before movies, often involving movie trivia, for three years at Cineplex, and Silverberg says the company’s surveys have found a large number of moviegoers arrive early just to play the games.
“What we do well is turn downtime into uptime,” says Silverberg, but not, until recently, for a long time: “it’s (been) one and done in the cinema. And what we wanted to do is create some stickiness over a longer period of time.”
The setup of the tournament rewards people who play a lot, and given that there will be new games, like a hockey-oriented version where users play as goalies and are peppered with shots, even veteran TimePlayers will likely need to play a few times to get the hang of it.
The move to cash prizes is very on trend; the TimePlay experience is grounded physically in the cinemas, but its business model is otherwise generally similar to HQ, the app-based trivia game that has become a phenomenon, with twice-daily contests and cash prizes. HQ launched in August and now regularly tops over 1 million users for the nightly games. HQ has already spawned a number of copycats now available at the app store, but what it shares with TimePlay — communal game play — is not lost on Silverberg.
“Absolutely, we’re keeping an eye on HQ, and I actually think HQ helps our cause, and I don’t just mean the tournament we are now doing,” he says. “What we do is take 500 strangers that are surrounded by four walls and they kind of socialize on a shared screen, as for HQ, a lot of it is solo, but they are connecting people through mobile.”
Silverberg admits that the tournament being held in Toronto is a bit of a pilot, but the company is bullish on the project and already has plans to hold something similar in the U.S. shortly after the first Canadian tournament ends.