I just finished Friday wordle – which I remind you is owned by The New York Times for reasons you’ll soon understand – and when I did, I was surprised to see an addition to the results screen. Among the usual statistics, the “following” wordlecountdown, and the share button, there was something new: a small banner advertising another puzzle, the NYTs game match†
For fans who appreciate it Wordle’s simplicity, the ad may come as a rude surprise. Part of the appeal of wordle is that simplicity: you take your chance on the puzzle of the day, decide if your trip is worth sharing on Twitter, then close the tab and move on.
And that was by design, as noted in the NYTs profile by wordle creator Josh Wardle:
But since Wordle was originally built for just Mr. Wardle and Ms. Shah, the original design ignored many of the growth-hacking features pretty much expected from games in the current era. While other games send notifications to your phone hoping you’ll come back all day, Wordle doesn’t want an intense relationship.
“It’s something that encourages you to spend three minutes a day,” he said. “And that’s it. It doesn’t want more of your time than that.”
When the NYT bought wordle just a few weeks later, it promised that “the moment it moves to” The New York Times† wordle will be free to play for new and existing players, and no changes will be made to gameplay.” But that promise apparently doesn’t extend to the results screen, which has undergone a change. The NYT did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
When you cross your pitchfork Wordle’s game match ad, though, you should know that wordle actually owes a lot to the bee-themed spelling game. According to the NYT profile, Wardle and his partner got in game match in a big way in 2020, and the decision to limit wordle players up to one game a day “caused a sense of scarcity, which [Wardle] said was partly inspired by the game match†