An update on Wordle pic.twitter.com/TmHd0AIRLX
— Josh Wardle (@powerlanguish) January 31, 2022
Wardle stated yesterday that he was pleased to hand off the reins to the New York Times. In a January interview Wardle conducted with the Times, he conceded the idea for the game was borne from him and his partner’s love of the New York Times word games like “Spelling Bee.” His statement also promised the game would remain free when it moved to the New York Times site. The NYT, however, “said the game would initially remain free to new and existing players” (emphasis added).
Wordle has been the undoubted king of social media over the previous two months. The Lingo-like word game exploded on social media in December after Wardle added a “share” function so that players could post their final result grids on Twitter. Since then, Wordle has been the subject of fawning think-pieces and tremendous enthusiasm from social media, not just because of the quality of the game, but because of what Wordle represented to many people: by keeping Wordle free-to-play and ad-free, Wardle harkened back to a simpler time on the internet, one where people would choose to go to a website for one purpose, rather than go to a mega-corporate website to serve all their needs while the corporate website sold all their data to advertisers.
The Wordle sale depressed players who enjoyed the game’s simplicity and lack of corporate funding. Many feared the language used in the Times article, dreading that the game would soon be put behind a paywall, despite Wardle’s assurances.
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’ll stick it behind a paywall. exhausting.
— srečko kosovel fan (@mcmansionhell) January 31, 2022
if the New York Times is smart they’ll keep Wordle exactly as it is, add an unobtrusive “click here for the rest of the NYT games section, with a link to subscription” button to the bottom after you solve the puzzle, AND NOTHING ELSE
— Cat Manning (🐅,✨) (@catacalypto) January 31, 2022
I was waiting for our Wordle fun to be ruined by a big company, just like everything else. And here it is. It was nice while it lasted.
— Hollie Kamphues (@loveholliejo) January 31, 2022
The big things with #Wordle are scarcity and commonality. If others can’t afford to play, then there’s no fun playing. Instead of uniting people, it becomes exclusionary. @nytimes should keep it free for all as a public service, which itself has corporate reputational benefits.
— Louise Mensch (@LouiseMensch) January 31, 2022
Despite the despair, many agreed that it was an undoubted success story for Wardle, whose little game he developed for him and his partner turned into a global smash and made him a millionaire.
I’m happy for Mr. Wordle. He made a game for his partner because she loved word games, then he shared it with all of us for nothing. Now he gets a million unexpected dollars. Because he loved someone!
— Caissie (@Caissie) January 31, 2022
Can’t think of a happier ending for a game used by millions, built as a passion project by a single developer, than selling for a cool ~million.
A single HTML file sold for >$1m. You don’t need a fancy JS framework or some app. https://t.co/O48s5UsABl
— Owen Williams ⚡ (@ow) February 1, 2022
I am going to be brave enough to say that if I were the Wordle dev I would absolutely sell it to the New York Times for seven figures. I would not even think about it. If people got mad at me online I would do the Woody Harrelson crying into money gif at them.
— Johnny L. (@johnnylandmine) February 1, 2022
Time will tell if Wordle will remain the smash hit it has been now that it’s in the hands of the New York Times. Until then, today’s word is “ANGST.”