If you’ve been around Twitter for the past few weeks, there’s more than a high possibility that you’ve heard of Wordle. The puzzle game made by Josh Wardle became an overnight sensation during the Omicron surge to the point where you wouldn’t see a Twitter feed without it. Players have lauded the game’s simple mechanic and how it feels so rewarding to finish the word puzzles, but above all the fact that it is completely free.
Well, that last phrase might become obsolete soon as The New York Times has just acquired Wordle for an undisclosed amount somewhere in the “low seven figures” which means less than 10 million and more than 1 million USD. All of that goes to the game’s creator alone as there is no company behind Wordle. It was originally meant as a gift for his girlfriend but was later released publicly in late 2020.
For those who haven’t come across the game, Wordle is a simple word puzzle game and is a cheeky spin on the creator’s name “Wardle“. You get six attempts to guess a five-letter world and you can share your performance online with colorful square emojis representing the letters you got right (or wrong). The catch here is that you get those six attempts per day. That’s what makes the game so exciting, while most games market themselves to be played as much as possible, Wordle thrives on its moderation.
The New York Times acquisition of the game comes out of nowhere in a flurry of acquisitions in the past few weeks, but it’s one that makes a lot of sense. The NY Times has a goal to gain 10 million digital subscribers by 2025 and it already has classics like Spelling Bee, Letter Boxed, Crossword, and Vertex under its belt—puzzles that set it apart from its rivals. So, acquiring a popular word puzzle game that is meant to be played once per day is like a match made in heaven for The NY Times.
This, unfortunately, also means that the game will likely go behind a paywall in the future. The NY Times has said that the game will remain free for now and players will be able to keep and manage their progression, but once the honeymoon phase is over, the game will be caged behind the $0.25/week subscription. While this will be disheartening for many players when it eventually does happen, it’s quite relieving for Josh.
The game’s creator has openly stated that managing a game played by millions daily all on his own is a challenge, especially when it was never expected or intended to blow up like this. Selling to The NY Times this early on not only nets Josh a nice little paycheck, but it also takes the burden off his shoulders. If anything, this was the best thing Josh could do seeing the immense popularity of the game and how overwhelming it was to run the whole thing by himself.
An update on Wordle pic.twitter.com/TmHd0AIRLX
— Josh Wardle (@powerlanguish) January 31, 2022
That being said, Wordle is a very simply browser-based game that includes all the future words right in its code. So, in theory if you have the entire webpage downloaded as an HTML file, you could play it for roughly seven years before you run out of words. Even aside from this, countless mirrors of the webpage have already been created that would be up for years where you could also enjoy you daily cruciverbal.
Wordle has become such a superstar that copycats have already popped up and been removed from the App Store in the meantime. Nobody is sure what the future holds for Wordle but it’s certain that, as with all good things, it will come to an end. So, it’s high time that you cherish the moments now before you yearn for them in a nostalgic hindsight years later when another viral game takes the internet by a storm.