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New York Times buys word game Wordle

New York Times building New York City
Posted at 4:44 PM, Jan 31, 2022

The New York Times announced Monday that it has purchased the surprise hit word game "Wordle," which will reportedly still remain free to play and no changes will be made to the main features of the game.

In a statement on Monday posted to Twitter, the game's creator Josh Wardle confirmed, "When the game moves to the NYT site, it will be free to play for everyone, and I am working with them to make sure your wins and streaks will be preserved."

The popular word game was released in October and quickly gained millions of daily users making it an enticing acquisition for the Times. As Polygon pointed out, the game really appeared to take off around Christmas.

Wardle, a software engineer, was already a fan of word games from the Times, which have become important as a business for the newspaper, as the Hollywood Reporter notes.

The New York Times has been running word puzzles since 1942 when the paper ran its first Sunday puzzle and became the first major USpaper to do so. By 1950 crossword puzzles appeared in the paper on a daily basis.

Wordle's quick success has been, in part, attributed to the way the game is played with players getting six chances to guess a five-letter word each day. Players can show off their scores by posting them to their Twitter and Facebook timelines. The game gives small hints, but as Marketplace notes, the 3 million global users the game has grown in such a short time is related to its interactive qualities and shareable features.

Wordle creates a new puzzle each day and there is a "communal" experience to it.

Earlier this month, Wardle told BBC Radio 4, “I am a bit suspicious of mobile apps that demand your attention and send you push notifications to get more of your attention.” Wardle said of the game, “There are also no ads. I’m not doing anything with your data, and that is also quite deliberate as well.”

Wardle wrote Monday, "It has been incredible to watch a game bring so much joy to so many, and I feel so grateful for the personal stories some of you have shared with me - from Wordle uniting distant family members, to provoking friendly rivalries, to supporting medical recoveries."

In 2009, another hit game, Words with Friends, also became a sensation in the Apple Store as the online multiplayer word game, similar to Scrabble's main game features, managed to gain a large following.