Why has the NYT bought Wordle?

The New York Times has continued its 2022 spending spree, acquiring popular word game Wordle for an undisclosed seven-figure sum.

The move follows the company’s recent purchase of global subscription-based sports company The Athletic.

Wordle, which was created by software engineer Josh Wardle, was launched in October and now boasts millions of players. The game challenges players to find a five-letter word in six guesses with a new game unveiled on a daily basis.

So why would a leading US newspaper invest in a word game?

1 The NYT wants to be the world’s leading English language newspaper – Adding Wordle is another way to put it on the radar of potential readers across the globe who may not have come across its content before.

2 The purchase ties in with its subscription plans – The newspaper said the game would initially remain free to play, and has reassured both existing and new players that it won’t charge for the game in the immediate future.

It is however highly likely that it will at some point be shuttered behind its paywall with the hope that the games millions of addicts love it enough to subscribe. The purchase of The Athletic was driven by the latter’s success in amassing over one million paying subscribers.

3 The NYT has a long history of focusing on games – Josh Wardle said on Twitter that he had “long admired the NYT’s approach to their games and the respect with which they treat their players.”

An NYT spokesperson said “Our games already provide original, high-quality content and experiences every single day. Wordle will now play a part in that daily experience, giving millions more people around the world another reason to turn to The Times to meet their daily news and life needs.”

Jonathan Knight, general manager for the New York Times Games, said: “The game has done what so few games have done – it has captured our collective imagination and brought us all a little closer together.”


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