The Million Pound Drop – Play-along game

The Million Pound Drop is one of those classic formats that only come around occasionally.  The show was invented by Remarkable TV’s MD David Flynn and it has a devilishly simple premise where contestants are given a million pounds in cash at the start of the show and simply asked to keep as much of it as it possible whilst gambling all of it on 8 multiple choice general knowledge questions. Four trapdoors provide the peril as they correspond to the answers of the questions – place your money on an incorrect answer and you could lose the lot!

The beauty of simple formats like this is their effortless flexibility to be turned into digital or other spin off formats and we realised early on that this format would lend itself perfectly to an online play-along game. Channel 4 loved the show and felt that the play-along aspect would complement it perfectly and help maintain their reputation for innovation, so they commissioned it without even a pilot.

Developing play-along games for prime time television would prove to be a considerable technical challenge, the main problems being ensuring you could deliver the game to so many concurrent users at the same time (one technical manager at C4 likened the game to organising a denial of service attack on your own website) and generating data about the players at home fast enough so that statistics could be fed back into the studio gallery and used editorially within the show.

These challenges were met with the help of developers Monterosa, a company with a technology platform called EnMasse which has been developed specifically to cater for mass online participation broadcast events like this.

Since the success of the first series we have redesigned and iterated the play-along game to improve the experience and to add new features such as an in-game players’ leaderboard of facebook friends, so now you players can track their progress in the game against their friends and family.

Client: Channel 4
Launched: April 2010