New York Times Begins The ‘Wordle’ IP Purge, Gets ‘Wordle Archive’ Taken Down

from the and-away-we-go dept

There are lots of reasons to have fallen in love with Wordle. The simple nature of the game. The ability to post spoiler-friendly brags for how you did on any given puzzle. The clean design. But here at Techdirt, we obviously became smitten with how Wordle’s creator, Josh Wardle, professed no interest in the ongoing monetization combined with zero interest in wrapping any IP around the game. In fact, the couple of times that other folks out there attempted to build Wordle clones or apps that had similar names and monetize them, Josh handled it all as kindly as possible.

But then Josh sold Wordle to the New York Times. When that happened, we wondered aloud:

It will be interesting to see if suddenly “IP issues” start becoming a bigger deal to the NY Times than they were to the original developer…

Which brings us to the present, a few weeks later, with the New York Times getting ‘Wordle Archive,’ a site to go and play past Wordle puzzles, to “voluntarily” shut down.

Wordle Archive was a service dedicated to the preservation of previous Wordle answers, allowing fans to dip into the backlog and play older puzzles, dating all the way back to the first one. However, the service has since been shut down at the request of the New York Times, as announced by an update on the application’s webpage.

The announcement thanks fans for their interest in the Wordle Archive and thanks them for their feedback throughout its life. It goes on to explain the situation and tell fans that its own original game, Word Grid, is still available for those that are interested in playing something similar. However, it is no longer possible to access that version of Wordle Archive, which many fans have used.

And so it has begun. An app created for others to have some simple and innocent fun by a man who very clearly had no interest in bullying others over intellectual property concerns is now in the hands of a media company that has decided to take the exact opposite route. And this will likely be the first move in a larger conflict, so long as the public backlash doesn’t get the Times to reverse course. There are plenty of other related apps and sites harkening back to Wordle. Will the Times be going after those as well? Probably, yes.

The shutdown does raise questions about similar games and services. In the time since Wordle saw its own explosive popularity, other games with similar mechanics have emerged. One clear example of this is Lewdle, which is essentially Wordle using strictly lewd words. Other similar games have also popped up, using similar restrictions or some other sort of twist on the formula.

And so the legacy of Wordle moves from one of pure enjoyment and care-free fun into the realm of intellectual property enforcement and corporatization.


Filed Under: bully, wordle

Companies: new york times

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