Wordle burst onto the scene just a few months ago and it has already taken the entire internet by storm. However, the simple little pun also sparked a surprising amount of controversy. Here’s a quick explainer to catch up with Wordle and the associated drama.
Wordle is a simple game that challenges you to guess a five letter word in six tries or less. With each legitimate guess, it displays the letters in gray, yellow, and green. Gray means the letter is not in the correct word at all; yellow means the letter is in the word but in a different place; green means it’s in the right place. Whether you solve the puzzle or not, you can share your Wordle results via text or social media with a series of grey, yellow and green square emojis. This is part of the popularity of the game, since you can post your results without spoiling the word of the day. There’s only one word for each day, so once you’ve solved it, you have to wait until at least midnight to play the next day’s puzzle.
— Kyle S (@KSerrott) January 8, 2022
That’s how the game plays in a nutshell, but the real story is how it rose to prominence. It all started with software engineer Josh Wardle, who was last interviewed by The New York Times. Yes, Wardle named his game after his own last name and he created it just for his partner, Palak Shah, who loves word puzzles.
Wardle reportedly shared the game with his partner and family, and found it quickly became an obsession for each of them. He decided to post it online in October, thinking others might also get hooked. The growth has been massive – over 300,000 people played the game this weekend, and that number continues to rise.
Experts say the rise in popularity is particularly impressive given Wordle’s limited format – it can only be played once a day, forcing users to wait 24 hours for their next patch. It’s quite different from a lot of other mobile games, but some gamers say it’s what they like the most.
Users have also praised the game’s accessibility. They find it charming that something so popular hasn’t been bogged down by ads, subscription tiers, or corporate sponsors. It doesn’t even have an official app yet — it has to be played through a web browser. Wardle himself said The temperature“I think people kind of appreciate that there’s this thing online that’s just fun. It’s not about trying to do something fishy with your data or your eyeballs. It’s is just a fun game.”
Wardle said he put about 2,500 words in the Wordle queue and left it there, so there would be a new daily puzzle for years to come. However, the immense popularity brought new attention and on February 1, Wardle announced that he had sold the game to The New York Times. The outlet is said to have paid Wardle a sum in the “low seven figures” for the game, which will eventually fit into his daily crosswords and other puzzles.
Not all players were thrilled with this news. Some felt that the simple, open-source nature of Wordle was what made it great, and that corporate ownership could only alter it – not add anything new. Until there, The temperature hasn’t changed much about Wordle, but players are already swearing that the game is getting harder and harder. Many also dread the day when he will fall behind some kind of pay wall.
Wardle himself said the sale was a bit of a relief. He said The Guardian: “It’s going viral, it’s not great, to be honest. I feel a sense of responsibility towards the players. I feel like I really owe them to make things work and make sure everything is working properly. This n It’s not my full-time job and I don’t want it to become a source of stress and anxiety in my life.”
For now, Wordle remains free, ad-free, and independent of the New York Times subscription service. Users expect this to change from day to day.