It’s boomed in popularity over the last month, now the viral daily word game Wordle has been bought out by the very newspaper it was inspired by – The New York Times.
Created by New York City resident Josh Wardle (yes, the name is a pun) for himself and his word game-loving partner, the puzzle challenges players to guess a five-letter word in six tries. Green letters are in the word and placed correctly, yellow letters are in the word but in the wrong place, and grey letters aren’t in it at all.
But you probably knew that already.
Since it was released to the public in October, the game has been free for everyone to play, with no adverts in sight or any monetary aspect involved – not even a request for donations from Wardle for his hard work in flooding our Twitter timelines with hundreds of green and yellow squares.
We digress. The New York Times’ purchase of Wordle – for “an undisclosed price in the low seven-figures – was announced on Monday, with the publication saying it was “thrilled” to have acquired the popular word game.
“[It] will join New York Times Games’s portfolio of original, engaging puzzle games that delight and challenge solvers every day.
“The Times remains focused on becoming the essential subscription for every English-speaking person seeking to understand and engage with the world. New York Times Games are a key part of that strategy.
“Our games already provide original, high-quality content and experiences every single day. Wordle will now play a part in that daily experience, giving millions more people around the world another reason to turn to The Times to meet their daily news and life needs,” the company said in a blog post.
However, given the outlet’s online content is paywalled, players are concerned that their favourite daily game could suffer the same fate:
You either die a Flappy Bird or live long enough to see yourself paywalled by the NY Times. RIP Wordle
I have never seen twitter as immediately mad as it is rn about the NYT wordle buyout. the NYT took one nice and simple thing that a lot of people really liked, a dumb bit of fun in our exhaustingly dark times, and implied that they\u2019ll stick it behind a paywall. exhausting.
— sre\u010dko kosovel fan (@sre\u010dko kosovel fan)
My favorite part of NYT buying Wordle is how they're apparently reassuring everyone they're not going to paywall it, but I wouldn't know since I can't read the article about it, because it's fucking paywalled.
As Twitter users have noted, a New York Times news piece announcing the news is paywalled, which isn’t very reassuring when you want to stress to people that a loveable free game won’t, in fact, be paywalled.
“The company said the game would initially remain free to new and existing players,” a New York Times report on The New York Times company blog post reads.
Yes, our heads hurt too.
However, the NY Times Wordplay Twitter account tweeted that “the game will still be free”, while the company blog said: “At the time it moves to The New York Times, Wordle will be free to play for new and existing players, and no changes will be made to its gameplay”.
As for what Wordle’s creator, Josh Wardle, is saying, he said in a statement it’s been “incredible” to see his game “bring so much joy to so many”.
“It is important to me that, as Wordle grows, it continues to provide a great experience to everyone.
“Given this, I am incredibly pleased to announce that I’ve reached an agreement with The New York Times for them to take over running Wordle going forward. If you’ve followed along with the story of Wordle, you’ll know that NYT games play a big part in its origins and so this step feels very natural to me.
“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,” he said.