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Wordle bought by the New York Times, will remain free "initially"

Wordle
Wordle (Image credit: Josh Wardle)

What you need to know

  • Wordle has been acquired by the New York Times.
  • The popular online word game has rocked to fame since the start of 2022.
  • NYT says the app will remain free "initially", suggesting that might not always be the case.

The New York Times has announced that it has bought the popular online game Wordle, and has hinted that it might make people pay to play in the future.

From NYT:

The sudden hit Wordle, in which once a day players get six chances to guess a five-letter word, has been acquired by The New York Times Company.The purchase, announced by The Times on Monday, reflects the growing importance of games, like crosswords and Spelling Bee, in the company's quest to increase digital subscriptions to 10 million by 2025.

Creator Josh Wardle took to Twitter to confirm he had sold the game, apparently for a price "in the low seven figures."

Wardle was clear in his own message that when the game moves to the NYT site "it will be free to play for everyone" and that he was working to ensure wins and streaks were preserved. However, The New York Times Company was far less committal and simply stated "the game would initially remain free to new and existing players" which doesn't sound all that encouraging.

The Times report went on to hail its paywall strategy that started in 2011, and its recent acquisition of The Athletic. The company says it has nearly 8.4 million subscribers, and that its games were played over 500 million times last year.

Wardle said he was "incredibly pleased" to be passing on Worlde to NYT and that he was "thrilled that they will be stewards of the game moving forward."

Stephen Warwick
Stephen Warwick

Stephen Warwick has written about Apple for five years at iMore and previously elsewhere. He covers all of iMore's latest breaking news regarding all of Apple's products and services, both hardware and software. Stephen has interviewed industry experts in a range of fields including finance, litigation, security, and more. He also specializes in curating and reviewing audio hardware and has experience beyond journalism in sound engineering, production, and design.

Before becoming a writer Stephen studied Ancient History at University and also worked at Apple for more than two years. Stephen is also a host on the iMore show, a weekly podcast recorded live that discusses the latest in breaking Apple news, as well as featuring fun trivia about all things Apple.