The New York Times has acquired recently popular word game Wordle which gives players six chances to guess a five-letter word daily. The Times announced the news earlier this week, adding to their popular roster of word games such as The Crossword, Letter Boxed, Tile,  Spelling Bee and others.

Wordle was acquired for an undisclosed price in the low-seven figures. According to the company, its games were played more than 500 million times in 2021, and in December, it reached one million Games subscriptions.

The Times added that the company “remains focused on becoming the essential subscription for every English-speaking person seeking to understand and engage with the world” and New York Times Games are a key part of that strategy.  At the time 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 its gameplay.

“Wordle will now play a part in that daily experience, giving millions more people around the world another reason to turn to The Times to meet their daily news and life needs,” it said. Since its founder Josh Wardle released the guessing game to the public in October 2021, Wordle exploded in popularity and in January alone 300,000 people played it. Now, the puzzle has millions of daily players.

Jonathan Knight, general manager for The New York Times Games said the game has done what so few games have done - captured our collective imagination, and brought us all a little closer together.

“We could not be more thrilled to become the new home and proud stewards of this magical game, and are honored to help bring Josh Wardle’s cherished creation to more solvers in the months ahead. As part of our portfolio of games, Wordle will have an exciting future with the help of a team of talented engineers, designers, editors and more, furthering the user experience,” said Knight.

Wardle added, “If you’ve followed along with the story of Wordle, you’ll know that New York Times Games play a big part in its origins, and so this step feels very natural to me. I’ve long admired The Times’ approach to the quality of their games and the respect with which they treat their players. Their values are aligned with mine on these matters and I’m thrilled that they will be stewards of the game moving forward.”

Prashant Kumar, founder of Entropia – part of Accenture Interactive said the acquisition is an interesting one for New York Times , and should drive their audience engagement also giving them a little finger in the mobile gaming industry.

“Mobile gaming is a huge industry (think free fire by Garena or angry birds). Wordle is one of those games that sit at the intersection of what newspapers should do and what is fun and addictive,” he said, adding:

The possibilities are truly immense and it’s less important as to what Wordle is today, it will be more interesting to watch what New York Times does with it.

Ranganathan Somanathan, co-founder of consultancy RSquared Global Ventures added that New York Times is one of the best examples of transitioning into a digital brand. “Puzzles and crosswords have had a cult like following in the analog avatar. Wordle, with its clean interface and one word a day experience, best simulates the digital experience, enabling The Times to fuel the passion of its readers,” he said.

He added:

Keeping it outside of the paywall also enables New York Times to build a pipeline of erudite subscriber base for its future growth.

In the marketing industry, brands too have jumped on board the hot new puzzle game.

CPF Board

The CPF Board jumped on the trend to let inform its followers on the benefits of CPF. The message was crafted such that the words not only form a sentence, but also abide the rules of the game. 

Marigold HL Milk

Marigold jumped on the Wordle trend to deliver its brand message - that milk helps build strong bones. 

Ministry of Social and Family Development, Singapore

The MSF took advantage of the Wordle trend to remind Singaporeans that both parents have a part to play in household chores and other duties. "The word(le) on the street is that it takes both words and actions to support each other at home," MSF said on its Facebook post. 

NTUC Fairprice

NTUC jumps on board the Wordle trend with a dash of local "culture". While NTUC curated a string of words, as several other brands did, the correct word was " shiok ", a Singlish term indicating great approval. 

Punggol Fire Station

The fire station tapped on the trend to deliver a simple yet important PSA to its followers, especially riders - to give way to emergency vehicles when spotted on the road. 

Suntec City Shopping Mall

Suntec City used the trend to promote its Lunar New Year sales in the mall. Additionally, Suntec City hosted a giveaway whereby fans who guessed the correct answer stand to win prizes from the mall.

Meanwhile, Malaysia saw the launch of Ketapat, a Malay version of Wordle. According to The Star , Ketapat launch on 22 January and has garnered over 2,500 users in just three days since its launch. Eugene Low, an app developer from Selangor, developed the game by reproducing Wordle's code, The Star reported. 

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