The Downfall of Wordle


Emily Osit, Editor

“Have you done the Wordle yet?” A question that you have heard at least a couple times before. Well, Wordle is a puzzle game where you try to guess the 5-letter-word of the day. The game includes words as common as “their” or as unusual as “nymph.” Wordle has taken the world by storm, with over 3 million players daily. However, after The New York Times took over Wordle, people have become frustrated with the game, and stopped playing completely. Some players claim it’s “too hard”, using words that they have never heard before, and I’ll admit the word “nymph” was a tough one. 

After The New York Times acquisition in late January, Wordle has seen a few changes. For example, NYT took away “Wordle Archive” where you could go back and look at previous puzzles. Players have become unhappy with these changes, and critics have taken to Twitter, @cmcylmer tweeted, “NYT buying Wordle is the puzzle equivalent of an out-of-touch politician instantly killing the appeal of a pop culture thing.” 

Another user, @mcmansionhell expressed, “​​I have never seen twitter as immediately mad as it is rn about the NYT wordle buyout. The NYT took one nice and simple thing that a lot of people really liked, a dumb bit of fun in our exhaustingly dark times, and implied that they’ll stick it behind a paywall. Exhausting.” 

Developer Josh Wardle sold Wordle to the newspaper The New York Times for “a low sum of seven figures,” a.k.a. a million bucks. As seen in the graph, Wardle sold the game at just the right time, because users and sharers have seemed to decline right after the buyout.

Wordle has become not as fun, and even stressful. With these difficult words, players find that they can’t win – and winning motivates them to play again tomorrow. So when the players consistently lose, they will stop playing, which is why Wordle may lose its popularity.

Aside from the fact that people want to keep Wordle to themselves, another issue has arisen with the New York Times buyout. Gizmodo, a tech website, explained what the New York Times plans to do with the game, and how they plan on profiting from it. Researchers stated, “taking a look for ourselves, Gizmodo found that some of the trackers were from the New York Times proper, but most were used to send data to third-party players like Google.”

What is an ad tracker? Well, this is a process where advertisers track what you’re doing on websites and give you ads they think would interest you. Most websites have them, however Wordle had none before the New York Times acquisition, and this is yet another change that players dislike. Unfortunately, it seems like this once fun and innocent online puzzle game is turning into “just another cash grab.”

Yes, when a large company like the New York Times buys a popular game, changes are bound to happen. NYT did buy Wordle for an estimated 1,000,000 dollars, so they have to profit off the purchase somehow. Maybe these ad trackers won’t affect game play, and maybe the NYT buyout won’t cause the complete downfall of Wordle. Amy Haslam, who wrote and article on the recent judgment of worde stated, “Maybe instead of looking to point fingers at which party is to blame for its slight decrease in popularity, we can just consider that it’s a trend running its natural course…Flappy Bird died of mainly natural causes and maybe this will too. We don’t need a Wordle autopsy.  It’s not going to disappear from our consciousness, crosswords still get played and those are far less fun.”