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How Wordle and Wordle! teamed up for charity

Following the sudden explosion of love for Wordle in recent weeks, the browser-only availability of Josh Wardle’s free word game led to get-rich-quick developers coding similar efforts and sticking them in app stores.

Apple recently removed from its own app store some of the most blatant knockoffs, though if you search for the game today, you’ll find a word game called Wordle! at the top of the list.

Wordle! landed in Apple’s app store five years ago and its gameplay is different from Wordle‘s. Wordle! developer Steven Cravotta recently revealed that sudden interest in Wardle’s newer, browser-based game led to a sudden surge of mistaken downloads of his own game, which includes in-app purchases.

Aware of Josh’s strong desire not to monetize his own game, and after reading about other developers trying to cash in by launching their own Wordle clones, Cravotta reached out to Wardle with an idea to donate proceeds from his own game to charity, GameSpot reported.

In a Twitter thread, Cravotta explained how he made his Wordle! game in 2017 to help sharpen his coding skills and perhaps make a few bucks. But after downloads topped out at less than 100,000, he stopped updating the app and largely forgot about it. Until last week.

As the popularity of Wardle’s Wordle game started to explode, people hit the app store in search of it and, without paying too much attention, downloaded Cravotta’s similarly named Wordle! app.

As of January 13, Wordle! received more than 200,000 downloads in the space of seven days, “and it’s not even slowing down yet,” Cravotta said.

Quickly working out the reason for renewed interest in his game, he decided to make something positive out of the unexpected turn of events.

“I figured we could turn this very strange, once in a lifetime scenario and make it something amazing!” Cravotta wrote on Twitter.

The Wordle! creator then contacted Wardle directly to ask if he was interested in helping him choose a charity to receive proceeds from the game. They settled on Boost! West Oakland, which provides free after-school tutoring and mentorship to children in Oakland, California.

As others got wind of Cravotta’s kind gesture, Wardle hit Twitter to confirm the development, writing, “Steven reached out to me unprompted and asked about donating the proceeds,” and describing him as “a class act.”

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