Wordle, the game that took over the internet, has found a new home as the creator has sold it to The New York Times.
If you haven’t heard of or played the Wordle game, you need to check your IT credentials. The hit online word game by the creator with a similar sounding name, Josh Wardle, has been the rave of the moment. However, Wardle has made the decision to let go of the game, and none other than The New York Times, famous for its suite of word games, is the new custodian.
The transaction netted Wardle an undisclosed income in the low seven figures, meaning the creator earned above one million dollars.
According to an update from Wardle, Wordle will “initially remain free to new and existing players.” What will happen after that remains unknown, but The New York Times may decide to recoup its investment by putting the game behind a paywall or introducing ads. The magazine might also bundle it with its subscription packages.
However, Wardle is in collaboration with The New York Times to preserve players’ records so that the transition will be seamless.
Wardle explained the sale was not about cashing out, but the popular game became overwhelming to manage as he was operating alone. He believes the game will be better managed by The New York Times. He said, “If you’ve followed along with the story of Wordle, you’ll know that New York Times Games play a big part in its origins, and so this step feels very natural to me. I’ve long admired The Times’ approach to the quality of their games and the respect with which they treat their players. Their values are aligned with mine on these matters, and I’m thrilled that they will be stewards of the game moving forward.”
It is not uncommon for one-person game makers to be overwhelmed by success. The creator of the hit game, Flappy Birds, Dong Nguyen, deleted his creation after he was overwhelmed by the large number of interview requests and hateful comments he received.
The magazine is thrilled to take over the game’s running, as revealed by Jonathan Knight, the head of games at the magazine. “We could not be more thrilled to become the new home and proud stewards of this magical game, and are honored to help bring Josh Wardle’s cherished creation to more solvers in the months ahead.”
The New York Times already has puzzle games like Crossword, Mini crossword, Spelling Bee, Letter Boxed, Tiles, and Vertex. These games were played more than half a billion times in 2021 alone.
Wardle started the game for his girlfriend, Palak Shah, during the pandemic. The pair are huge fans of word puzzles. Wardle released the game in late 2020, and it has gotten a life of its own with millions of daily players. Part of the appeal is the emoji-based of announcing your win without revealing the answers. People now festoon their social media feed with the result of their performance for the puzzle of the day.
The app was intentionally kept free, but that did not stop other developers from cloning Wordle and putting the copies in Apple’s App Store. However, Apple wasted no time banning these copycats.