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June 26, 2015

QuizUp’s Plain Vanilla Games: Developer Profile

We talk to Plain Vanilla’s COO Gunnar Holmsteinn about QuizUp, a social trivia game that’s new to Windows Phone.


QuizUp” is a mobile trivia game that caught lightning in a bottle. Launched in November 2013, it garnered a million downloads in its first week.

According to Gunnar Holmsteinn, the COO of developer Plain Vanilla Games, “QuizUp” has reached 38 million users and boasts 50,000 new downloads every day.

Its launch on the Windows Phone app store last week means that it’s now reaching even more trivia-hungry gamers!


The concept for “QuizUp” (free) came from Plain Vanilla’s CEO Thor Fridriksson, who wanted to reinvent a popular game genre for the masses.

“In ‘Trivia Pursuit,’ they’ll have six genres that are very general,” explained Gunnar. “But Thor had the idea that people don’t get excited about ‘literature’—they get excited about ‘Harry Potter.’”

So in “QuizUp,” you can challenge players from around the world to real-time trivia matches in 550 popular categories like “Disney Princesses” and “The Simpsons” along with more educational topics like “Reptiles” and “Name the Artist.” There are over 400,000 questions to answer, and new ones are added every week.

Questions are generated by the game’s passionate fan base. According to Gunnar, over 100,000 people have applied to write questions for the app.

Rapid Growth

Gunnar told us that the biggest challenge in developing “QuizUp” was in making it intuitive and easy to use. The team’s goal was to cut down on unnecessary buttons and options, and focus on the important aspects—gameplay and social connections.

Gunnar estimated that 95 percent of the app’s phenomenal growth is due to positive word-of-mouth, online and in person. Overwhelmingly positive reviews on the Windows Phone app store have certainly helped, too!

In addition, “QuizUp” is a social networking platform. It encourages users to chat about their passions and browse user-created content on pages dedicated to each subject. There you can find shared screenshots, news, comments and more about a topic you love.

Destination: Windows Phone

Gunnar credits Windows Phone developer and enthusiast, Daniel Gary, with bringing “QuizUp” to Lumia phones.

“Last summer, we found someone who had reverse-engineered the app. [Daniel] loved playing “QuizUp,” and spent time reverse-engineering it so he could play it on Windows Phone.”

After showing the team at Plain Vanilla how easy it would be to make QuizUp for the Windows Phone platform, they hired his company, Gateway Apps, to finish the job

“QuizUp” was just featured as one of Windows Central’s Hidden Gems—a group of awesome Windows Phone apps that deserve time in the spotlight. To try the free trivia sensation for yourself, download “QuizUp” here.

In which trivia category are you a master? Tell us your best trivia about Windows Phone and Lumia in the comments below.