The successful online word game Wordle has been purchased by The New York Times, which will integrate the daily word puzzle into the New York Times Games suite of word games, creator Josh Wardle announced today.
An update on Wordle pic.twitter.com/TmHd0AIRLX— Josh Wardle (@powerlanguish) January 31, 2022
Wordle will “initially remain free to new and existing players” as it transitions to the Times website. Wardle says he is working with The New York Times to preserve players’ existing earnings and track data once the game moves to its new home. However, the New York Times announcement leaves plenty of room for the company to decide to put Wordle behind a paywall in the future.
In his announcement of the sale – at a price that the New York Times announcement says is “in the low seven figures” – Wardle explains that running the hugely popular game “has been a little overwhelming,” especially considering he’s the only person who actually handles the running of the entire game.
“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 treasured creation to even more players in the months ahead,” said Jonathan Knight, general manager of The New York Times Games, in the Times’ announcement of the acquisition. When Wordle moves to The New York Times, it will join a number of other popular daily puzzles, including The New York Times Crossword, the Mini Crossword, Spelling Bee, Letter Boxed, Tiles and Vertex.
As a previous New York Times profile indicates, Wordle was originally developed by Wardle as a gift for his partner, Palak Shah, after the two became addicted to word games (like the Times’ Spelling Bee and crosswords) during the pandemic. It was released in late 2020, but has since gained tremendous popularity, thanks in part to viral emoji-based messages that allow players to share their scores without revealing them to others.
While Wardle intentionally kept Wordle as a free, web-based experience, the app was quickly copied by several clones who tried to capitalize on the game’s popularity with fake iPhone apps. Apple quickly banned these apps from the App Store following reports that spotlighted the clones, though Wordle’s runaway success has also helped older, unrelated word games (like the similarly named Wordle!) take off.