Wordle acquired by New York Times

Wordle

A screenshot from Wordle. Source: SmartCompany

The simplicity of once-a-day word game Wordle has captured a legion of fans, and now it seems, the attention of one of the globe’s most recognisable media companies. 

The New York Times Company announced early this morning it has acquired Wordle from its creator, Brooklyn-based software engineer Josh Wardle, and will house the popular game within its games division. 

Wardle created the free game — which requires users to correctly guess a five-letter word within six attempts on a basic, ad-free website — in October 2021 and it has since been embraced by millions of users worldwide, according to The Times.

Many Wordle players choose to share their daily results, including on Twitter, in the form of an image of coloured blocks that indicate how close they were to guessing the correct word.

The Times, which has confirmed the sale price is “in the low seven figures”, said in a statement its games offering is a key part of its subscription strategy.

“The Times remains focused on becoming the essential subscription for every English-speaking person seeking to understand and engage with the world.”

The New York Times Games division also includes The Crossword, which has been running since 1924, as well The Mini crossword, Spelling Bee, Letter Boxed, Tiles and Vertex. The company says its games were played more than 500 million times in 2021, and it now has one million Games subscribers.

Founder Wardle thanked Wordle users for making the game an “unforgettable experience”, and admitted overseeing the now viral program has become “a little overwhelming”.

“After all, I am just one person, and it is important to me that, as Wordle grows, it continues to provide a great experience to everyone,” he said.

Twitter users remain sceptical if their favourite game will remain free, but both parties have said this will initially be the case for new and existing users. 

“When the game moves to the NYT site, it will be free to play for everyone, and I am working with them to make sure your wins and streaks will be preserved,” Wardle said.

So what’s so appealing about the simple, once-a-day word game?

One theory is that Wordle players enjoy the sense of community and socialising that comes with sharing their daily results and strategies.

As Glenn Peters, copywriter at Private Media and Wordle player, puts it: “It’s simplicity makes it great”. 

“You use everything you’ve learned over your life about how words are made to solve a five minute puzzle,” says Peters.

“It asks nothing of you like app downloads, subscriptions, payments or annoying emails. You just do the puzzle in a browser; it’s just so wholesome.”

“For once in this cynical online times, we’re playing the game, instead of the the game playing us. It strikes a perfect level of difficulty, where everyone from primary school kids to high level word nerds all can get the same feeling of accomplishment.”

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