After dealing with copycat Wordle apps trying to cash in on the craze, Wordle’s creator Josh Wardle is now set to make big bucks for his viral creation. The New York Times announced that it acquired the digital word game from Wardle for a price “in the low seven figures,” so Wardle now gets to be a millionaire.
As The Times reported, buying Wordle “reflects the growing importance of games, like crosswords and Spelling Bee, in the company’s quest to grow digital subscriptions to 10 million by 2025.”
One of the wonders of Wordle is that it’s free. The New York Times plans to keep it that way… for now. Wordle will “initially remain free to new and existing players.” But who knows when that’ll change.
Wardle previously told TechCrunch that he had no desire to monetize Wordle. “I don’t want Wordle to be my full-time job, but I don’t want to invest in it or do any of that stuff. I’m very happy with where it’s at,” he told the publication earlier in January. “I think that if [venture funding] were to happen, it would be more in the context of being an artist with a patron or something like that.”
Though it wasn’t initially planned, this acquisition makes sense. Wardle also told TechCrunch that he and his partner, Palak Shah, play a lot of The New York Times word games, that also follow Wordle’s one-a-day model.
He created the game in October 2021 to play with Shah, who’s also a word game enthusiast. But it wasn’t until December 2021 that Wordle became a viral sensation, after a group of friends in New Zealand found the game and shared it with others.
New Zealanders are to credit for the emojis used to share results on social media, too. A woman named Elizabeth, who works as an adviser to the New Zealand government, according to BuzzFeed News, discovered it was easier to share her results by using square black, yellow, and green emojis to show how well she did on Wordle. Wardle then added it on the site’s social sharing option. Soon after it went viral in New Zealand, it spread across the globe. The rest is history.