Oh Word? Time buys word game

By Grace Hamilton, Staff Writer

The New York Times announced on Monday that it was buying Wordle, a viral word game which has seen a huge rise in popularity the past few months. 

The game was created by Josh Wardle, a software engineer from Brooklyn, who created the game for his wife. The basis of the game is that players have six chances to guess a five letter word. Letters guessed correctly appear green, while letters which are in the word but belong in a different spot are yellow. 

Wordle was launched in October 2021 and had over 300,000 users within three months. That number is now in the millions. The Times’ acquisition of Wordle reflects the importance the Times places on its growing catalog of word games, including its own famous crossword as well as games such as Spelling Bee and Letter Boxed, which require a subscription to play. The newspaper has set themselves a goal of 10 million digital subscribers by 2025, an objective they hope to aid with the purchase of Wordle. 

The deal was reportedly seven figures, an amount which reflects Wordle’s sudden and substantial rise to prominence, as well as the Times’ desire for its ownership. The company stated, “The Times remains focused on becoming the essential subscription for every English-speaking person seeking to understand and engage with the world. New York Times Games are a key part of that strategy.” 

While many players of the game were happy to see Wardle financially profit from his creation, some have concerns over how it will be handled now that it has been sold. Part of Wordle’s appeal was that it was on an ad-free website, with no corporate oversight. Now, some fans fear that the game will be overrun with ads or placed behind a paywall like the Times’ crossword and other games. 

The Times has said that the game will initially be free to play, but the wording of this statement has left some users with questions of if it will remain so.