E-X-T-R-A, E-X-T-R-A! The New York Times has bought Wordle!
In an online article Monday afternoon, the newspaper giant announced that it had bought the viral online word guessing game in its “quest to grow digital subscriptions to 10 million by 2025.”
The game’s creator, Josh Wardle, received at least $1 million for his efforts – the article says he was paid somewhere “in the low seven figures.”
Wordle, a play on Wardle’s last name, was created for his word game-loving wife as a pandemic pastime. She loved it so much that he released it to his family WhatsApp chat, and everyone became hooked.
When he decided to unleash Wordle on the world last November, he had no idea how quickly the game would take off. Earlier this month the game was tracking approximately 2.5 million players per day.
In spite of the game’s incredible popularity, Wardle told The Guardian he has mixed feelings about the attention the game has received.
“It going viral doesn’t feel great, to be honest. I feel a sense of responsibility for the players. I feel I really owe it to them to keep things running and make sure everything’s working correctly.”
In a tweet from Wardle Monday, announcing the sale, he expressed his relief at selling the game while thanking people for playing.
“I’d be lying if I said this hasn’t been a little overwhelming,” he wrote. “After all, I am just one person, and it is important to me that, as Wordle grows, it continues to provide a great experience to everyone.”
Wordle’s been described as a “drug,” an “obsession” and a “love story.” It’s deceptively simple to play, but harder to solve than it looks.
Players receive a maximum of six guesses to complete the word. A series of tiles indicate correct guesses, marking them green for the correct letter and placement, and yellow for a correct letter in an incorrect position.
Once players complete the game, successful or not, they are given a cryptic-looking block of squares that they can use for bragging rights on social media. To the outside viewer, the ability to read those squares depends on whether they’ve played the game themselves.
There’s been no shortage of strategy shared about how to solve the game in the fewest tries, and it’s hard to scroll a Twitter or Facebook feed without coming across the green, yellow and black tiles.
It’s also been a game that’s launched a thousand memes.
In a statement announcing the sale, Wardle said that having his game bought by the newspaper company feels “natural,” as the “New York Times Games play a big part in (Wordle’s) origins.
“I’ve long admired The Times’s 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.”
The NYT assured players that the game will remain free to play, and no changes will be made to its gameplay.
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