Folks are 'saving' six years of Wordle before the NYT messes with it

Wordle
(Image credit: Josh Wardle)

No-one saw Wordle coming, and probably its creator least of all. Developer Josh Wardle made the game primarily to amuse his partner, but the subsequent addition of a sharing feature saw it become a phenomenon and take over twitter. Wardle also didn't monetise the game despite its huge success: Then the New York Times came a-calling, and paid a "seven figure" sum for the game.

From one perspective, this is quite nice. Wardle has spoken about how NYT puzzles inspired the game, says himself that the success has been "overwhelming", and reckons that the grey lady is the best possible steward for Wordle's future. He also seems like just quite a decent chap, and it's good to see him get paid for something that has brought a lot of people enjoyment.

In his statement following the sale, Wardle was careful to emphasise that "When the game moves to the NYT site, it will be free to play for everyone." But not everyone's convinced.

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The NYT didn't help by saying that Wordle will "initially remain free to new and existing players," the "initially" there doing plenty of heavy lifting. The NYT's existing games are monetised in various ways, and some are not: Crosswords require a subscription, while sudoku is free, and something like Letter Boxed can be played once a day (much like Wordle).

So people are worried that the nice thing they like, which doesn't charge or have horrible ads and can be shared easily among everyone, is going to end up either paywalled or behind a NYT login. This may of course not happen. Nevertheless it inspired some tinkerers to take a closer look at Wordle itself, and coder McClure discovered that it's remarkably easy to download the whole shebang: Including over 2000 words that represent many years' worth of daily puzzles.

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After saving the Wordle site as an HTML file, these two downloads (thanks, Vice) need to be put in the same folder and, et voila, you've got an offline version of Wordle. There are currently kinks around the sharing graphic and streaks, but it works. And if you don't fancy the download route, you can also check out Wordle on the Wayback Machine and manipulate the date: Or even just play it as-is.

Rich Stanton

Rich is a games journalist with 15 years' experience, beginning his career on Edge magazine before working for a wide range of outlets, including Ars Technica, Eurogamer, GamesRadar+, Gamespot, the Guardian, IGN, the New Statesman, Polygon, and Vice. He was the editor of Kotaku UK, the UK arm of Kotaku, for three years before joining PC Gamer. He is the author of a Brief History of Video Games, a full history of the medium, which the Midwest Book Review described as "[a] must-read for serious minded game historians and curious video game connoisseurs alike."