Does this spell the end of Wordle as we know it?
The viral word-game sensation is going corporate after it was scooped up by New York Times Co. NYT, +3.38% for an amount “in the low seven figures.”
The New York Times announced Monday afternoon its acquisition of the cult-craze game, which allows users six tries to guess a five-letter word. While the New York Times charges for a crossword subscription, it said that Wordle “initially” would be free to play once it moves to the Times platform.
“Our games already provide original, high-quality content and experiences every single day,” the New York Times said in a post. “Wordle will now play a part in that daily experience, giving millions more people around the world another reason to turn to The Times to meet their daily news and life needs.”
Wordle was created by software engineer Josh Wardle as a treat for his partner, and he held off on monetizing the game before the acquisition, opting to host it on a site without advertisements. The low-frills nature was part of Wordle’s charm, as users rushed to share information about their daily performance on Twitter using emoji boxes, so as not to give away the day’s answer.
The New York Times noted that the game now has millions of daily players, up from 300,000 earlier in January.
Wardle said in a statement posted to Twitter that while he’s enjoyed seeing the game rise to fame, the buzz has also been “a little overwhelming.”
“After all, I am just one person, and it is important to me that, as Wordle grows, it continues to provide a great experience to everyone,” he said. Wardle will work with the New York Times “to make sure” that statistics on users’ win streaks and performance will carry over to the Times platform.
The New York Times has made a big business of selling subscriptions to various games and puzzles, and it boasted 1 million subscribers for its Games offering in December. That subscription allows users to access the New York Times crossword, as well as games such as Spelling Bee, which has attracted its own cult following on social media.