Wordle is a web-based word-finding game where players receive six chances to identify a five-letter word of the day. The game was created by Welsh software engineer Josh Wardle and released to the public in October 2021.
Wordle was initially intended to be used by Wardle and his partner who were both fans of the daily crossword puzzles and spelling competitions in The New York Times. When he observed that family members became obsessed with the game, Wardle released it to the public with the belief that others would also find it enjoyable.
On November 1, 2021, Wordle had 90 players. Just over two months later, this number ballooned to more than 300,000. The game went viral on Twitter after Wardle let players share their results in the form of a colored grid emoji. In the first two weeks of 2022, 1.2 million such emojis were shared on the platform. Wardle became somewhat of an instant celebrity and copycat versions of the game started to appear in the App Store.
As the player count neared 3 million, The New York Times announced on January 31, 2022, that it had acquired Wordle for an undisclosed sum in the low seven figures. Wardle took to Twitter to explain his reasoning behind the deal, admitting that the work involved in maintaining the website became overwhelming for one person.
Referencing the inspiration for creating the game in the first place, Wardle also noted that he “admired the NYT’s approach to 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.”
Wordle revenue generation
When Wardle created Wordle, he had no intention of monetizing it.
The game remains free to play at the time of writing, but one can foresee that the new owners will monetize the game in the near future. History has shown that monetizing popular games has proved profitable, with Flappy Birds creator Dong Nguyen raking in $50,000 per day in advertising revenue alone.
The New York Times may also monetize Wordle with a subscription fee – an approach the company has used for games like Letter Boxed and The Crossword. Having said that, it was noted that the newspaper inserted multiple ad trackers into the source code after acquisition to better serve visitors to other sections of its website. This means that, at least indirectly, The New York Times may be making money from Wordle while it decides on other revenue channels.
- Wordle is a web-based word-finding game where players receive six chances to identify a five-letter word of the day. The game was created by Welsh software engineer Josh Wardle as a play on words of his surname.
- Overwhelmed with the amount of work required to maintain the website, Wardle sold his game to The New York on January 31, 2022.
- Wordle remains free to play at the time of writing, but past actions suggest The New York Times will add a subscription fee or some form of advertising in the future.