The game "Wordle" causes a hype in the net. Now the developer is a millionaire.
One word per day: The principle of the word guessing game Wordle is simple. Now the "New York Times" has bought it. Why it fascinates millions?
Causes a sensation: With "Wordle" there is one word per day to guess.
Success came quickly: At the beginning of November, around 90 people were staring at the empty boxes of the word guessing game Wordle; in the meantime, millions are puzzling to find the one correct word out of a jumble of letters.
It was developed by the programmer Josh Wardle from New York to please his wife, who was a puzzle enthusiast. He has probably succeeded twice over: "Wordle" has made the developer a millionaire. On Monday, the "New York Times" announced that it had bought the popular game from him for a "low seven-figure sum".
The principle of the game is simple: An English word with five letters is sought, for which there are six attempts. In order not to fish completely in the turbidity, colored hints help after each round: If a letter does not appear in the word you are looking for, it is colored gray. If it is part of the solution, but is in the wrong place, the tile turns yellow. And if he stands at the right place, this becomes green. "Wordle" is a mix of puzzle game, Scrabble and mastermind.
The game is only available in homeopathic doses
"Wordle is also a product of the pandemic. John Wardle developed it in his spare time, as he watched his wife solve the New York Times crossword and spelling game Spelling-Bee day after day. For "Wordle" he has deposited about 2500 words that are not too fancy. It was chosen by his wife – based on a list of 12,000 words.
From then on, the pair bent over the tiles together. After family and friends were also enthusiastic about the game, Wardle put it online – and wrote a success story.
Year after year, countless games are released – both analog and digital. Why is "Wordle" fascinating so many people?? "It stands out for its simplicity and its reduction in online overload," says Matthias Sala, president of the Swiss Game Developers Association. There is only one puzzle per day. And it can be solved in just a few minutes. Those who are hooked must be patient. A clock indicates when the next puzzle goes online.
The game thus also has something anachronistic about it. Unlike streaming services or game platforms, it does not aim to keep users on the site for as long as possible. A "Wordle" obsession can therefore not be lived out excessively. The rush, if one can speak of it at all, only exists in homeopathic doses.
The result is also something to brag about on the web
"Digital products aim to make it a habit. <Wordle> embodies this perfectly," says Sala. For him, the classic crossword puzzle has been translated into the digital world. Since "Wordle" works in cell phone format, it can be played anywhere. For example in bed, at breakfast or in the streetcar on the way to work.
But the hype of the game is also based on the sharing function of one’s own results, says Sala. Click to create a graphic with the gray-yellow-green mosaic that shows the path to the solution. Players share them on the web and can thus compare how many attempts it took others to get the right result. In the best case, there is not only a small sense of achievement at breakfast, but also a bit of applause.
Embroidery or music: fans are creative
The fan community is also attracting attention with special tributes: For example, one player embroiders her "Wordle" pattern in cross stitch; another has developed software that turns the result into music.
Tips for the best strategy for playing can also be found on Twitter. Advised to try words with many vowels first. Rare letters should be avoided at the beginning, as well as words in which a letter occurs more than once. The success has called imitators on the plan. In the meantime, the game is also available in a German version.
Wordle" is also popular because it is free and ad-free. According to a report in the "New York Times", it will "remain free for the time being".