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Wordle Creator Explains Why He Sold To The New York Times

Josh Wardle was reportedly paid at least $1 million for the game, and now he's discussed the decision to sell.


Wordle creator Josh Wardle has shed new light on why he sold the hit game to The New York Times, saying part of the reason he accepted the buyout was to avoid the drama of dealing with wannabes and clones that quickly appeared on app stores.

"That isn't money that I would have made, because I said I don't want to make money, but something about that felt really deeply unpleasant for me," he said at The Game Developers Conference recently of the numerous copycats that popped up, according to The Independent.

"And so selling to the New York Times was a way for me to walk away from that. I didn't want to be paying a lawyer to issue cease and desists on the game that I'm not making money from," he added. "It felt like it was all going to get really, really complicated in a way that just [made me] pretty stressed out, truthfully."

Wardle went on to say that he felt an "enormous amount of pressure" about this, and that the business side of running a video game was of no interest to him. He further clarified that other copycat apps making money off his creation weren't strictly why he sold Wordle to NYT. But thinking back on it now, Wardle said he tries to remember how terrible he felt in that time when he considers the "what-ifs" about selling.

"Other people monetizing wasn't the reason that I sold to The New York Times, but if I find myself thinking about the what-ifs now... I have to remind myself of how I felt around that time, and I felt miserable," he said.

Wardle was reportedly paid a figure in the range of the low seven figures for Wordle, which means at least $1 million. At the time of the sale, Wardle said, "I'd be lying if I said this hasn't been a little overwhelming. After all, I'm just one person, and it's important to me that, as Wordle grows, it continues to provide a great experience to everyone."

NYT said it bought Wordle in part to help grow its digital subscriptions to 10 million by the year 2025. The game remains free, though it's possible NYT will eventually put it behind a paywall.

For more on Wordle, check out GameSpot's rundown of the best starting words and other tips.

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