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Wordle: New York Times buys popular word game

Image source, Getty Images

The New York Times has purchased the popular word game Wordle for an undisclosed seven-figure sum.

The free and simple game was created by software engineer Josh Wardle. It was released last October and now boasts millions of players.

Mr Wardle said the game’s success had been “a little overwhelming”, and that he was “incredibly pleased” to announce the deal with the New York Times.


The newspaper publisher said the game would initially remain free to play.

The game challenges players to find a five-letter word in six guesses.

A new puzzle is published every day and players can post how quickly they solved the colourful grid on social media – but in a way that does not spoil the answer for those still playing – which is why, Mr Wardle said, it managed to capture the imagination of so many users.

Mr Wardle announced the deal in a statement posted on Twitter, saying he had “long admired the NYT’s approach to their games and the respect with which they treat their players”.

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites.View original tweet on Twitter

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The New York Times said it bought the hit word game from its creator for a price “in the low seven figures”.

“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,” a statement said.

“Our games already provide original, high-quality content and experiences every single day. 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,” it added.

The game can be played in just a few minutes. Players begin by guessing any five-letter word.

  • If any of the letters are in that day’s word but in the wrong place, they turn gold
  • If they are in the word in the right place, they turn green
  • If they are not in the word, they turn grey

Wordle screengrab

Image source, Wordle

Mr Wardle said he had “really got into” the New York Times crossword and spelling games during the pandemic.

The New York Times Games, Mr Wardle said, played a “big part” in Wordle’s origins, “so this step feels very natural”.

In January, Mr Wardle, who engineered games for social-media platform Reddit, told the BBC’s Today programme he had come up with a prototype for the game in 2013 but his friends had not been keen on it.

“Last year, my partner and I got really into crosswords and word games and I wanted a game for us to play each morning as part of our routine,” he said.

He then shared it with his family on WhatsApp before opening it up to the public.

Asked whether he planned to make money from it, he said: “I don’t understand why something can’t just be fun. I don’t have to charge people money for this and ideally would like to keep it that way.”

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