NY Times buys the pandemic craze: the virtual word game Wordle


Links to additional articles about Wordle after this article

New York Times Buys Wordle

Media company is acquiring viral word game for an undisclosed price in the low-seven figures

The New York Times said Wordle would for now remain free to play for new and existing players.PHOTO: BRANDON BELL/GETTY IMAGES

By Joseph Pisani FollowUpdated Jan. 31, 2022 5:41 pm ET

The New York Times NYT 3.38% said it bought Wordle, the word game that has become an online phenomenon. 

The media company said it paid a price in the low-seven figures.

Wordle went viral this year, with millions of people playing the puzzle daily, according to the New York Times. Only 90 people played it on Nov. 1. 

Josh Wardle, the software engineer who created Wordle, said he made a prototype in 2013 and dusted it off during the Covid-19 pandemic for his partner, who liked word games. 

It started to spread last month after Mr. Wardle made it easy to share results on Twitter and Facebook.

Mr. Wardle said in a tweet Monday that the game had become bigger than he imagined and that he would be working with the New York Times to move the game to its site.

“It has been incredible to watch a 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,” Mr. Wardle said in a statement. “On the flip side, I’d be lying if I said this hasn’t 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.”https://platform.twitter.com/embed/Tweet.html?dnt=false&embedId=twitter-widget-0&features=eyJ0ZndfZXhwZXJpbWVudHNfY29va2llX2V4cGlyYXRpb24iOnsiYnVja2V0IjoxMjA5NjAwLCJ2ZXJzaW9uIjpudWxsfSwidGZ3X2hvcml6b25fdHdlZXRfZW1iZWRfOTU1NSI6eyJidWNrZXQiOiJodGUiLCJ2ZXJzaW9uIjpudWxsfSwidGZ3X3NwYWNlX2NhcmQiOnsiYnVja2V0Ijoib2ZmIiwidmVyc2lvbiI6bnVsbH19&frame=false&hideCard=false&hideThread=false&id=1488263944309731329&lang=en&origin=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.wsj.com%2Farticles%2Fnew-york-times-acquires-wordle-game-11643666507&sessionId=7eec5a2b595ebe91ed0a51bdb9f4867681bc7ab2&siteScreenName=WSJ&theme=light&widgetsVersion=75b3351%3A1642573356397&width=550px

The game will move from its current website to the New York Times site and apps, but the company declined to say when that would happen.

For now, the New York Times said Wordle would be free to play for new and existing players.

“We don’t have set plans for the game’s future,” said Jordan Cohen, a spokesman for the Times. “At this time, we’re focused on creating added value to our existing audience, while also introducing our existing games to an all new audience that has demonstrated their love for word games.”

No changes will be made to the gameplay, in which players have six guesses to guess a secret five-letter word.

The acquisition of Wordle comes after the Times earlier this month agreed to acquire sports-media company the Athletic for $550 million, as the publisher looks to draw in young readers and expand its subscription offerings.

Games have become a driver of subscription growth for the Times, beyond its core news products.

The Times didn’t say whether it has any plan to make money by selling ads in Wordle.

The Times charges $5 a month for access to its games, including its flagship crossword puzzle, Spelling Bee, Letter Boxed, Tiles and Vertex. The company said that its games were played more than 500 million times in 2021 and that it reached one million games subscriptions in December.

In the third quarter, the Times’s net profit rose 63% compared with the previous year as it signed up 455,000 new digital subscribers and enjoyed a strong advertising-sales performance.

Write to Joseph Pisani at joseph.pisani@wsj.com








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