Wordle sells to the New York Times for a seven figure sum

(Image credit: Josh Wardle)

January has been a big month for bombshell games industry acquisitions: Microsoft announced it will buy Activision, Sony said it will buy Bungie, and now the New York Times has bought everyone's favourite word puzzle game, Wordle.

According to a report on the NYT itself, Wordle creator Josh Wardle sold his game for a price "in the low seven figures." It'll join a long list of games already available on the New York Times website, including newspaper mainstays like crosswords and sudoku, as well as Tiles, Vertex and Spelling Bee.

While Wordle will "initially remain free to new and existing players," the "initially" is telling, though it's unclear how it'll be monetised in the long run: games on the Times' site all have their own pricing structures. For example, crosswords require a subscription, sudoku is free, and other games like Letter Boxed allow a single play per day. The Times definitely intends to make money off it, though: it was purchased in a bid to drive digital subscription numbers up to ten million by 2025.

By contrast, creator Wardle hasn't made any money from Wordle until now. The game was available for free on the website since its launch in October last year. The Times is a fitting place for the game, though: it was created partially because Wardle and his partner really loved The Times' word games. 

While the Times' report says the game will "initially" be free, Wardle himself suggested in a post on Twitter that it'll remain free indefinitely. "When the game moves to the NYT site, it will be free to play for everyone, and I am working with them to make sure your wins and streaks will be preserved."

Here's his full statement:

Wordle rose to prominence early in January and has spawned countless clones, including Wheeldle (bingeable Wordle), Lewdle (lewd Wordle), Letterle (word-less Wordle) and Absurdle (absurd Wordle), among others. The free word game gives the player six chances to guess a five letter word, and allows a single attempt a day. It's still live here, if you want to play before it boards the big ship New York Times. 

Shaun Prescott

Shaun Prescott is the Australian editor of PC Gamer. With over ten years experience covering the games industry, his work has appeared on GamesRadar+, TechRadar, The Guardian, PLAY Magazine, the Sydney Morning Herald, and more. Specific interests include indie games, obscure Metroidvanias, speedrunning, experimental games and FPSs. He thinks Lulu by Metallica and Lou Reed is an all-time classic that will receive its due critical reappraisal one day.