Wordle: Word game sold to The New York Times in 'low seven figure' deal - here's what you need to know

Wordle, the viral word-guessing game with millions of daily users, has been sold by creator Joshua Wardle to The New York Times for an undisclosed sum in the ‘low seven figures’ – but will it stay free?

The New York Times announced on Monday (January 31) that it has bought hit word puzzle game Wordle after it soared to success.

Created by software engineer and puzzle lover Joshua Wardle, Wordle has become an online sensation since it was first posted for free on Wardle’s website in October 2021.

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The spread of green, yellow and grey square grids across social media feeds in recent months has helped garner the browser-based game millions of players, with Wardle selling the game to The Times for an “undisclosed price in the low-seven figures”.

The New York Times is now set to add Wordle to its already booming bank of online puzzle and spelling games, with its legendary crossword, Spelling Bee, Letter Boxed, Tiles and Vertex played more than 500 million times in 2021 according to the company.

Mr Wardle said in The Times’ statement that the game’s move to the newspaper’s Games section “feels very natural” due to the influence of its puzzle offerings on Wordle.

"If you’ve followed along with the story of Wordle, you’ll know that New York Times Games play a big part in its origins, and so this step feels very natural to me,” he said.

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The New York Times announced on January 31, 2022 that it had bought Wordle, a phenomenon played by millions just four months after the game burst onto the Internet, for an "undisclosed price in the low seven figures." (Image credit: Stefani Reynolds/AFP via Getty Images)

"I’ve long admired The Times’s approach to the quality of their games and the respect with which they treat their players.

"Their values are aligned with mine on these matters and I’m thrilled that they will be stewards of the game moving forward.”

Jonathan Knight, general manager for The New York Times Games, said: “If you’re like me, you probably wake up every morning thinking about Wordle, and savouring those precious moments of discovery, surprise and accomplishment.

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"The game has done what so few games have done: It has captured our collective imagination, and brought us all a little closer together.

"We could not be more thrilled to become the new home and proud stewards of this magical game, and are honoured to help bring Josh Wardle’s cherished creation to more solvers in the months ahead.”

Mr Knight added: “As part of our portfolio of games, Wordle will have an exciting future with the help of a team of talented engineers, designers, editors and more, furthering the user experience.”

When will Wordle move to The New York Times?

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At the moment, Wordle is still accessible on Joshua Wardle’s own website at https://www.powerlanguage.co.uk/wordle/.

But it is likely that Wordle will soon move to The New York Times Crosswords and Puzzles portal as its acquisition of Wordle looks to boost the company’s digital subscription drive.

The Times is currently attempting to grow its number of digital subscriptions to 10 million by 2025, with its Games, crosswords and Cooking offerings playing an increased role in its digital strategy.

Games subscribers The Times have unlimited access to its 80-year-old Crossword, as well as other games like Spelling Bee, Vertex and Sudoku.

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Will Wordle still be free at The New York Times?

The New York Times and Joshua Wardle himself have stressed that Wordle will be unchanged once taken over by the Times.

But the company’s statement that the game will remain free to play for new and existing players “at the time it moves to The New York Times” has led many to wonder whether moves to “initially” preserve unfettered access to Wordle will remain in the long-term.

Wordle was acquired for an undisclosed price in the low-seven figures, with Wardle stressing in his Twitter announcement of the game’s sale: “When the game moves to the NYT site, it will be free to play for everyone, and I am working with them to make sure that your wins and streaks are preserved.”

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