The New York Times Co., which continues to look for opportunities to bolster its offerings beyond the traditional news business, has acquired popular online game Wordle.
The precise value of the deal was not disclosed, but the official announcement ballparked it in the “low-seven-figures.” That puts it at the opposite end of the spectrum from the media company’s $550 million purchase of digital sports media outlet The Athletic earlier this month.
Wordle, a website-only word game, has seen a surge in popularity thanks to Twitter and other social media platforms. As of the Times acquisition, the game remains free to play and no changes are planned to the way it is played.
The transaction is the latest in a string of moves by the Times as it looks to reach its goal of 10 million subscribers by 2025. Other game offerings, notably the signature crossword puzzle, are made available on subscription apps.
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Games have been an integral part of Times readers’ experience since the first crossword appeared in print in 1942. The company said its games were played more than 500 million times in 2021, and in December it reached the milestone of 1 million games subscriptions.
Josh Wardle, a software engineer in Brooklyn, released Wordle to the public in October 2021. Its growth since then has been meteoric. The announcement of the deal said 90 people played the game on November 1. Nearly two months later, 300,000 people played it. Now, the puzzle has millions of daily players.
“If you’re like me, you probably wake up every morning thinking about Wordle, and savoring those precious moments of discovery, surprise and accomplishment. The game has done what so few games have done: It has captured our collective imagination, and brought us all a little closer together,” said Jonathan Knight, general manager for The New York Times Games. “We could not be more thrilled to become the new home and proud stewards of this magical game, and are honored to help bring Josh Wardle’s cherished creation to more solvers in the months ahead.”
Wardle gave the Times’ game division credit for helping to inspire his eponymous title. “I’ve long admired The Times’s approach to the quality of their games and the respect with which they treat their players,” he said. “Their values are aligned with mine on these matters.”
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