The original format pitted two married couples against each other. They were asked a general-knowledge question which had been asked of 100 people, and each team offered a guess as to how many people they think got it right. Whoever was closer got points equivalent to however many indeed got it right, and could challenge for the remainder (e.g., if 40% of the people in the survey got it right, the next question would offer 60 points) if they answered the question correctly themselves. Alternatively, they could force the opposition to give an answer. Play continued until one team reached 300 points. If anyone guessed a percentage on the nose, they won the game right then and there.
Partway through the show's run, the maingame was completely overhauled and basically became a clone of 21. Here, two solo contestants were pitted against each other and asked questions in three different categories, one of which was always "Pot Luck". Question values ranged from 10 to 90 (that being the percentage of the survey that got the answer wrong), with a goal of 250. Initially, only Pot Luck questions were jump-ins, but this was later changed so that all three categories were jump-ins.
As per B&E custom, five wins awarded a new car.
Game Show Tropes present:
- Bonus Round:
- Version 1: Involved choosing a target number and then another series of general-knowledge questions with three answers. One was not given by anyone in the survey, one was the most popular, and one just got some points. Each point was worth $10, choosing the 0% answer ended the round, and getting to 100 won $2500. If any answer was worth the target number, the couple won a progressive jackpot. When the jackpot moved to the main game, the endgame added a further step; if the answer that had some points but wasn't the top answer was chosen, the couple had to pick the top answer to continue.
- Version 2: Six survey answers, five of which totaled up to 100%. Picking the five answers that made this total (again at $10/point) won $2500 (later changed to the standard $1000 and a prize package).
- Golden Snitch: Guessing the percentage on the nose was an automatic win during the first week. Later on, the jackpot was moved from the Bonus Round to the main game, where anyone who guessed an exact percentage won it and the game.
- Progressive Jackpot: Originally began at $25,000, then reduced to $10,000. Both iterations added $1,000 per day until won. This was dropped when the "solo players" format began.
- Rules Spiel: Perhaps a necessity, due to the frequent changes.
- Show the Folks at Home: The answer was occasionally displayed at the bottom of the screen during the first format.
This show provides examples of:
- Deadpan Snarker / The Ghost: Judge Von Erik. His face was finally shown on the finale, and was revealed to have a Badass Beard.
- Disaster Dominoes: The bonus round display breaking after the first week and B&E being too lazy to fix it ended up turning into an overhaul of the entire show.
- Incredibly Lame Pun: One question had the answer of "metronome", to which Geoff said he always thought a metronome was a "short little guy with a beard that lived under the subway in Paris".
- Obvious Rule Patch: Every single change.
- Opening Narration: Two versions.Version 1: "During the next thirty minutes, intuition could win our players $xx,000 in cash, because it's time to challenge everybody's knowledge. It's time to Play the Percentages!"Version 2: "This is the game where people determine the difficulty of the questions! Let's Play the Percentages!"
- Pilot: Taped November 2, 1979. Info here.
- Those Two Guys: Geoff and Judge Von Erik.
- Title Drop: Geoff would begin each round by saying "Let's play the percentages."