Josh Wardle, the inventor of Wordle, the once-a-day word game that has attracted millions of users around the globe, has announced that he has sold it to the New York Times (NYT).
The NYT said it 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.”
“Our games already provide original, high-quality content and experiences every single day. Wordle will now play a part in that daily experience,” it added.
Mr Wardle meanwhile said that he has “long admired the NYT’s approach to their games and the respect with which they treat their players”.
The New York Times said it bought the hit word game from its creator for a price “in the low seven figures”.
Mr Wardle, a software engineer, released the free online game in October after initially developing it for his partner and himself to play during COVID-19 lockdowns.
During this time, he became a regular player of the NYT crossword and spelling games, and acknowledged that they played a “big part” in Wordle’s development.
The sale therefore felt “very natural”, he said.
Asked in January whether he planned to make money from its runaway success, 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.”
He said the game, which has millions of players, “has gotten bigger than I ever imagined”.
“It has been incredible to watch the 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.
“On the flip side, I’d be lying if I said this hasn’t been 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.
“Given this, I am incredibly pleased to announce that I’ve reached an agreement with The New York Times for them to take over running Wordle going forward.”
The media group said it will “initially remain free” to play, raising questions that the intention in the long term is to charge.
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