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Move over, Bungie: New York Times acquires Wordle

Wordle, a popular word-based puzzle game that’s dominated social media feeds in recent months, was acquired by The New York Times Company on January 31. It was the second significant gaming-related acquisition of the day, following Sony’s $3.6 billion acquisition of Destiny developer Bungie. 

The New York Times did not share the specific price of the acquisition, but did say in its announcement that it paid creator Josh Wardle an amount “in the low seven figures.” That’s a much smaller figure than Sony’s acquisition, but Wordle likely reaches a lot more people than even Destiny 2 currently does. 

The rules for Wordle displayed on its website.
Wordle is simple, engaging, and easy to share on social media.

While The New York Times is primarily a news publication, it has expanded into casual gaming in recent years. “The Times remains focused on becoming the essential subscription for every English-speaking person seeking to understand and engage with the world,” its article on the deal said. “New York Times Games are a key part of that strategy.”

Wardle claims New York Times Games played a part in the October 2021 creation of Wordle, adding that “this step feels very natural to me.”

It sounds like The New York Times could eventually put Wordle behind a paywall. “The company said the game would initially remain free to new and existing players,” The New York Times article notes, with “initially” being the keyword there. Thankfully, Wardle promises that Wordle will still be free and that wins and streaks will be preserved once the game transitions to The New York Times’ website. 

An update on Wordle pic.twitter.com/TmHd0AIRLX

— Josh Wardle (@powerlanguish) January 31, 2022

The New York Times highlights how it wants to grow its digital subscriptions to 10 million by 2025. Locking Wordle behind that subscription would undoubtedly drive some people to subscribe, but The New York Times also risks Wordle losing relevancy and upsetting a happy player base if it does that.

That’s not something we’ll have to worry about for now, as Worlde is still available for free online.

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