Purchase of video game Wordle by The New York Times provokes reaction from followers

For Supantha Mukherjee and Tiyashi Datta

Feb 1 (Reuters) – The New York Times Co.’s acquisition of Wordle caused an uproar on social media, with supporters expressing fear that the popular online word game, which is currently free, could acquire a paywall.

Announcing Monday that it had bought Wordle for an undisclosed seven-figure price, the Times said the game will remain “initially” free for current and new players.

This claim prompted some social media users to suggest that the media company will soon allow access only to subscribers.

“I have never seen Twitter as immediately angry as it is over the NYT’s purchase of Wordle,” one user tweeted. “The NYT took a nice, simple thing that a lot of people really liked, a bit of goofy fun in our exhaustingly dark times, and hinted that they’re going to stick it behind a paywall.”

After creating Wordle to play with his girlfriend Palak Shah, software engineer Josh Wardle released it to the public in October. In a few months it became a worldwide phenomenon, joined by celebrities such as comedian Trevor Noah.

The game, which is played once a day, offers the player six chances to guess a five-letter word with the fewest number of mistakes.

“I’d be lying if I said this hasn’t been a little overwhelming,” Wardle said in a post on Twitter. “After all, I’m just one person, and it’s important to me that as Wordle grows, it continues to provide a great experience for everyone.”

The Times said it hopes the acquisition will broaden its digital content as it tries to reach the goal of 10 million subscribers by 2025. (Reporting by Supantha Mukherjee in Stockholm and Tiyashi Datta and Yuvraj Malik in Bengaluru; edited in Spanish by Carlos Serrano)


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