If you’ve seen those green, yellow and gray boxes people are sharing on social media and wondered whether you should pay attention, the answer is probably yes.
Those boxes are the way people share their scores on Wordle, a viral, five-letter word guessing game that’s everywhere these days. Part of the genius of Wordle is that it’s free, there’s only one new game a day and the results are easily shared without giving away the answer.
Recently, however, The New York Times announced it had purchased Wordle, which has millions of daily users, from its creator Josh Wardle for a price “in the low seven figures.” It said the game would “initially” be free for all players.
Originally players accessed the game by visiting a website and not through an app. The game has now migrated to the Times website and players headed to the original site will automatically be redirected.
At least for now, the game will still be free and will still allow players to brag to others or despair over their daily attempts.
That shareability is increasing contact and connections among generations, as parents and children compare scores and grandparents and grandchildren do, too. It’s a subtle way to have a daily check-in.
“It’s been kind of a sweet way to feel a little bit connected,” says Susan Patrick, 54, from Menlo Park, California, who has three children ranging in age from 16 to 22. “My kids don’t always answer me when I text them, ‘How are your classes going?’ But when I see the little bleep come in of the Wordle score … it’s a little connection.”
How to play Wordle
The ABCs of Wordle
- Go to The New York Times Wordle site.
- Experts say to start with a word that contains some of the most common letters in the alphabet, including vowels, like adieu or aisle.
- The game won’t accept random letters — users have to enter a real word.
- After you finish the game, a Share option pops up. You can use that to share your grid on social media or with friends and family by text or email.
- Wordle in its current form provides an option for those who are color blind that adjusts the colors. To find this, click on settings and turn on the color-blind mode.
It’s hard to know just yet what the sale means for Wordle devotees, says Alex Bellos, 52, author of Language Lover’s Puzzle Book who also writes a puzzle column for The Guardian. If The New York Times begins to charge for the game “it will sadden many users and a majority will stop playing,” Bellos wrote in an email.
If The New York Times doesn’t charge, “my guess is that it will use Wordle as a gateway for the puzzle’s millions of players to enter the NYT’s puzzle ecosystem” — a lucrative product for the media company.