Highlights

  • Wordle purchased by New York Times for more than $1 million
  • Wordle quickly became the most popular game on the internet
  • Will Wordle remain free to play?

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Why did Wordle sell for over a million dollars, and will it remain free to play?

In a few months since launch, Wordle became the most popular game on the internet. Will it remain free to play after its million dollar sale to the New York Times?

On February 1, The New York Times purchased popular word game Wordle, for a fee which was undisclosed, but reported to be a low seven figure sum. Which means that it is at least upwards of a million dollars.

That does seem like a lot, but Wordle is not just a simple word game - it’s a viral trend, and seemingly the only thing people on social media are talking about these days. So, what exactly is this word game which people can’t stop talking about, and why did it sell for a million dollars?

What is Wordle?

Simply put, Wordle is a word guessing game available online. You have to guess a five letter word, based on no hint prompt, you just guess one word and take it from there. There’s only one correct answer, everyone is trying to guess the same word, and you only get one new word per day.

You also only have 6 chances to get the right word, so if you don’t get it in those, you’ve just failed your shot and have to wait for tomorrow’s Wordle.

So when you attempt to guess a word, you get feedback on letter placement. Grey means that the letter is not in the correct answer, yellow means that it’s in the correct answer but not in this exact position, while green means that you’ve got the letter in exactly the right position.

Based on that information, you continue to make further guesses, and hope to get it right in 6 tries. That’s all there is to it. It’s pretty simple, really.

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Where did Wordle come from?

Wordle was created by a software engineer from Reddit called Josh Wardle, and yes, Wordle is a pun on his name. According to the NYT, Josh Wardle created the game for his partner, Palak Shah, when she got really into word games during lockdown.

He then released it for the general public in October 2020. A report by The Conversation says that Wordle now has 3 million players across the world.

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Why is Wordle so popular?

Part of the fun behind Wordle is that everyone is guessing the same word each day, which makes the experience of sharing your scores and seeing others’ more enjoyable. Also, the fact that you only have 6 chances to guess one word per day creates a sort of artificial scarcity which really makes you want to do more Worldles.

Will Wordle remain free?

With the New York Times’ acquisition of Wordle, the big question now is if the game will remain free to play. NYT did say that the game will remain ‘initially’ free to play, but they do charge a separate monthly subscription for games like Spelling Bee and the NYT Crossword. Perhaps Wordle will share the same fate.

Honestly, there’s no saying how long Wordle’s moment in the sun will last. It might become less popular in a few days, like any lockdown trend - remember when everyone was baking banana bread? Or it might change, be put behind a paywall, or start showing ads.

Whichever way things go, at least we’ll always remember fondly the times when a simple, no-frills word game was the most popular thing on the internet.

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