The acquisition of Wordle by The New York Times’ is the culmination of the game’s meteoric rise. But how did we reach the point where a game made by one man for his fiancée was sold for millions of dollars? Wordle’s success can be boiled down to two factors:
Firstly, its combination of visual simplicity and ease of sharing over social media has helped Wordle become a viral sensation. Look at Sudoku – a very simple game that has kept users engaged for years. Even if Wordle’s popularity wanes in the coming months, the sheer scale of uptake and brand awareness to date still makes it a highly attractive proposition for The New York Times, particularly given its renewed focus on digital offerings.
The second reason is Wordle’s restriction on how often users can play. By limiting players to one game a day, Wordle embraces growing sentiment from consumers that looks to reject the instant gratification we have become used to with on-demand streaming services. We saw HQ trivia tap into this trend with great effect in 2018.
Wordle’s future success will depend on how closely The New York Times sticks to this original winning formula. The introduction of a paywall, and to a lesser extent advertising, will undoubtedly see diminished interest. The publication does, however, offer the infrastructure needed to solidify the game’s growth and ensure it can deliver in multiple languages on a global scale.