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New York Times Buys Wordle For “A Low Seven Figures” & Players Are Not Optimistic

A white woman with her face obscured holds a cell phone in a pink case out in front of her

It was announced Monday that the New York Times has purchased the word game Wordle for a price in the low seven figures.

It’s hard to begrudge the game’s creator, software engineer Josh Wardle, for cashing in a million-dollar paycheck over a simple game he created to pass time with his partner during the pandemic.

On the other hand, many are writing this news off as the beginning of the inevitable end of Wordle.

A lot of that has to do with the announcement that Wordle will “initially” remain free for users, giving the impression that eventually, it will not be.

But lots of people also have negative associations with the Times, given the seemingly endless parade of Bad Takes out of its op-ed department and especially after what many see as four years of centrist complicity during Trump’s presidency. They also have ongoing labor disputes with the 65 staffers at Wirecutter, who have asked for minimum pay raises across the board that would amount to $300,000, or “0.029% of the $1 billion the Times has in the bank.”

It is very nice that most of the negative reactions do not appear to be directed at Wardle, who definitely deserves to be paid for creating something that has brought so many people so much entertainment.

Rather, the disappointment seems to be aimed entirely at the Times.

The upside to this (beyond Wardle’s enormous paycheck) is that the inherent simplicity of Wordle means that there are plenty of ways to keep enjoying it if the Times eventually puts it behind a paywall or ads or whatever other hurdle people don’t want to deal with.

Part of what makes Wordle so engaging is the fact that every single person playing is working on the same word at the same time. That sense of community is harder to recreate but the gameplay itself is already available elsewhere:

It’s also possible to create your own version or (apparently very easily) save the existing game:

For even the most low-tech among us, your own Wordle is still possible:

Long live Wordle.

(image: Matthew Henry from Burst )

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Vivian Kane (she/her) is the Senior News Editor at The Mary Sue, where she's been writing about politics and entertainment (and all the ways in which the two overlap) since the dark days of late 2016. Born in San Francisco and radicalized in Los Angeles, she now lives in Kansas City, Missouri, where she gets to put her MFA to use covering the local theatre scene. She is the co-owner of The Pitch, Kansas City’s alt news and culture magazine, alongside her husband, Brock Wilbur, with whom she also shares many cats.