Caleb Pereira ’23
Plain games boost human lives. The simplicity of this sentence parallels that of the puzzle game “Wordle,” as both depend on five-letter words to achieve their goals. Wordle is a game that thrives due to its simplicity. You have six attempts to guess a five-letter word each day. Players type in a word until they see the euphoric 5 green squares — indicating their success — appear on their screen.
If a letter guessed is in the right place, a green background is placed behind the letter. Right letter but wrong spot? A yellow background shines from behind. Finally, if the letter is not in the word at all, a grey background appears behind the suggested letter. It may seem boring, but the simplicity of the game has entranced millions of people, as they wait eagerly to guess the new word each day. A large part of Wordle’s appeal is its scarcity. With only one puzzle per day, the audience anxiously waits for the new word each morning.
Wordle originates from New York software engineer Josh Wardle. Beginning in early 2021, Wardle developed the game for his partner to satiate her love of word games. After a few months, Wardle decided to make the game accessible to everyone across the world. Players were scarce at the beginning, as only 90 played the game on November 1, 2021, but Wordle would see a sudden rise in popularity at the turn of the new year.
At the end of December of 2021 and into the beginning of January 2022, Wordle saw over 300,000 people played the game. Just a week later, the player count surpassed two million. This rapid rise in success is attributed to Wordle’s large presence across social media. Thousands of people will post their results of the day’s Wordle on websites like Twitter, showing off their success or failure through a series of coloured blocks. The simplicity of the game also keeps new players hooked. With the only requirements to play being an internet connection and a basic knowledge of the English language, Wordle is an extremely easy game to learn. Combining near universal skills with the ability to quickly share results on social media, Wordle has created a sense of competition between countless people across the world.
The popularity of Wordle has only continued to skyrocket. As a result of this worldwide success, The New York Times purchased the game from Wardle for over one million USD (1.27 million CAD). In its current state, Wordle provides many untouched possibilities for revenue. Wardle himself made the choice to keep the website free of advertisements and a paywall. However, the acquisition by The New York Times could mean changes are implemented to generate a profit. Alterations The New York Times will doubtlessly affect public perception of both the game and the paper.
Like with many a phenomenon, it is unclear how long the success of Wordle will last. The New York Times may have different plans for the game which will run counter to the original draw. Until then, millions across the world will continue to play the game daily in search of those 5 precious green boxes.