The New York Times is facing something much bigger than coming up with the latest five letter word.
With the purchase of the game “Wordle” from its original creator Josh Wardle, the Times is keeping people guessing not only five letter words, but also if their ownership of the game has made it more challenging.
The Times made the purchase on Monday, Jan. 31, putting the game alongside their other word games such as “Spelling Bee” or “Letter Boxed.” Will Shortz, the editor of the Times crossword puzzle, stated the game was the perfect purchase as it “doesn’t take long to play” which makes it “perfect for our age when people have short attention spans.”
Since its acquisition of the game, the Times has stated that they have only made two significant changes to the game. One being the removal of curse words being recognized as guesses, and the other being taking more obscure words off of future solutions. Besides these two things, the company says all gameplay has remained the same.
While the Times claims to have removed more difficult words, many players believe they have done the complete opposite. Some of the words from past puzzles that have had players baffled include aloft, pleat, and ultra. For some players who had been playing the game before the buyout, the change in the words was evident.
“I had been playing Wordle for a couple of weeks when I noticed the change of difficulty in the words they were selecting,” said Ashley Fitzgerald, junior marine science major. “It honestly feels as if they are choosing uncommon letter combinations or picking strange words.”
For players who used the game as a hobby or pastime, they claim the change in difficulty has made the game less enjoyable. On the other hand, some players have enjoyed the more recent words and agree with the direction in which the Times is taking the game.
“I only recently started playing the game, and I think the words that I have played really make you think,” said Nick Lising, junior psychology major. “One of the words that I really enjoyed guessing was ulcer. It definitely isn’t a word you hear everyday, so it was an awesome feeling when I figured the word out before I ran out of guesses.”
The difficulty of the game isn’t the only controversy that was caused by the purchase. Many players lost their game streak when the game officially switched platforms.
“It wasn’t that big of a deal when I lost my Wordle streak,” said Fitzgerald. “But with all of the other changes that were happening in the game, it didn’t make the change in ownership feel any better.”
The changing of ownership between Wardle and the Times occurred after the spike in players had jumped from 90 to 300,000 in just two months. While the amount of money hasn’t been officially disclosed, the Times stated it had bought the game somewhere in the “low seven figures.”
After the Times purchased the game, they stated how they planned to bring the game to even more solvers in the coming months.
“The New York Times is such a big company, it doesn’t surprise me that they would be willing to purchase such a popular game with the intention of making it even more popular,” said Alex Larson, junior environmental science major. “Wordle is such a smart investment for a company who reaches such a wide audience as it allows them to take something that so many people already love and show it to even more people who will want to continue to play.”