In the space of three months, Wordle has gone from a personal giveaway to a viral sensation – and now everyone wants to participate.
The buzz can be attributed to the spoiler-free scoring grid of green, yellow, black and white blocks that allows players to share their Wordle wins on social media, group chats and more. To play the game, players guess a predetermined five-letter word in just six tries, similar to the process in “Lingo,” a popular game show from the late ’80s. Yellow and green squares indicate Wordle players have guessed a correct letter or a combined correct letter and a correct placement for that letter.
Josh Wardle, a software engineer, originally created the game as a gift for his partner. It was released in October and its popularity skyrocketed within months. Ninety people played the game on November 1, according to Wardle. Nearly two months later, 300,000 people have played it.
Wordle has gained popularity primarily through Twitter. From November 1 As of January 13, around 1.3 million tweets on Wordle have flooded Twitter, according to Siobhan Murphy, the platform’s communications manager. So far this year, Twitter conversation about Wordle has seen an average daily growth rate of 26%, Murphy said.
Wordle is free for gamers and contains no ads, creating an ideal user experience. The success of almost any product this popular is often followed by imitators, waddling behind in an effort to capitalize on the buzz. Wordle alternatives appeared just days after the original game went viral. Some of the imitators aimed to give players more guesses for a single word or multiple sets of words in a day, while others simply existed in the name of fun and, well, games.
Letterle, for example, gives 26 tries to guess the letter of the day. Queerdle, which calls itself the “yassification of Wordle”, remixes Wordle and includes some “very NSFWwords. Absurdle provides unlimited guesses but continues to get harder with each word the solver enters.
However, the most notable imitator was aptly called Wordle and offered as an app, unlike the original iteration of the game, which is a webpage. App creator Zach Shakked offered players a free trial of the same game with additional options for shorter and longer words. The app also offered an unlimited Pro version for $30. Apple removed the game – and other imitators – from its App Store shortly after Mr. Shakked tweeted about monetization his version.
For fans, the Wordle obsession is a goldmine of content. In fact, Twitter users have probably spent as much time turning their colorful grids into viral memes, paintings, cartoons and comics because they have to play the game. The game has even caught the attention of celebrities, including “The Tonight Show” host Jimmy Fallon and “Succession” actress J. Smith-Cameron.
In one meme, John Cusack holds not a boombox but a Wordle grid above his head. “Say anything…”? Rather, “Say you’ll share your Wordle score.”
Brands are also tweeting about the trendy game. Lego created its own green and yellow brick gate, and the Smithsonian tweeted a photo of a green, yellow and black tablecloth from his Cooper Hewitt collection.
Twitter users are also comparing the Wordle craze to the obsession with Farmville, a series of farming simulation games released in 2009. The game, created and published by Zynga, all but took over Facebook, users occupying their virtual cultures. and push their Facebook friends for help. Much like Wordle, Farmville was an internet sensation that shone bright and attracted up to 32 million daily active users at its peak.
“There’s virtually no way to predict fads like this,” said New York Times crossword editor Will Shortz. “They take off for no apparent reason and die as people move on,” he added.
But Wordle has a lot going for it. “The great thing about Wordle is how simple, nice and engaging the computer interface is,” Mr. Shortz said. Limiting players to six guesses a day and rationing one puzzle a day adds excitement to the solving process, he said. “It’s a great puzzle, and it doesn’t take long to play, which makes it perfect for our times when people have short attention spans.”