Wordle, the latest fad app game, has sold to the New York Times for an undisclosed seven-figures.
Wordle was created by Josh Wardle, a software engineer from Boston. He made the game to amuse his partner Palak Shah, but was convinced to release it to the general public in October 2021. Between then and January 2022, the simple little game exploded to 300,000 players, and now at the beginning of February, millions of people play it every day.
It’s a game in the line of Mastermind, where you guess a word by trying letters in different places. You get six tries, and you can only play once per day. The app is extremely bare bones, which is part of its appeal. Under Wardle, Wordle has no ads or accounts or art, simply the game mechanic and a keyboard. More of its success is also due to the emoji-based messages it generates so that users can easily, understandably share their wins without spoiling the daily puzzle. This easy, unobtrusive sharing helped the game go viral.
According to the New York Times, the game will ‘initially’ remain free for all to play, which is slightly ominous wording. Most of the New York Times’ complement of word games, including The New York Times Crossword, the Mini crossword, Spelling Bee, Letter Boxed, Tiles, and Vertex, are available on the newspaper’s website behind their paywall.
Wardle released a statement about the sale on his Twitter on Monday. “It has been incredible to watch a game bring so much joy to so many,” he wrote, but “I’d be lying if I said this hasn’t been a little overwhelming… it is important to me that, as Wordle grows, it continues to provide a great experience to everyone.”
Wardle and Shah were both fans of Times games like the Spelling Bee during the pandemic, and took inspiration from there in the design of Wordle.
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