New York Times Buys Wordle Puzzle

The online game Wordle, which went viral within weeks, has been bought by the owner of The New York Times in a seven-figure deal, barely three months after its creation.

The New York Times Company has acquired the digital word-based puzzle after a rapid surge in popularity took its base of daily players into the millions.

The terms were not disclosed but the media group said it had paid “in the low-seven figures” for the guessing and logic game, which at the start of November was played by only 90 people.

The daily puzzle allows players six attempts to guess a five-letter word by inserting letters into a grid. A box turns grey if a letter is incorrect, yellow if it is in the wrong place and green if it is right. It was created by Josh Wardle, a software engineer, who made the game as a present for his partner before releasing it in October. He said last night that he was “incredibly pleased” to announce the sale of a puzzle that grew “bigger than I ever imagined.”

Wardle has been left “in awe” of the response to his game. “On the flip side, I’d be lying if I said this hasn’t been a little overwhelming,” he said.

The New York Times Company, valued at almost $7 billion, has more than eight million subscribers to its print and digital platforms and aims to reach ten million by 2025. The group has 4,700 employees. Shares in the business slipped 1.3 per cent, or 53 cents, to $39.50 in out-of-hours trading.

It emphasised yesterday that Wordle would remain free to play for new and existing users, with no alterations, after moving to the New York Times website.

Jonathan Knight, general manager of the company’s games division, said: “The game has done what so few games have done: it has captured our collective imagination.”

Last month The New York Times agreed to acquire The Athletic, a subscription sports news website, for $550 million in cash.

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New York Times buys Wordle puzzle