Fact-Checks

Wordle Has Not Become More Difficult After Being Bought by The New York Times

By Leelyn Ellis

On Monday, Jan. 31, The New York Times announced that they had bought the popular online game Wordle from its creator, Josh Wardle. Along with the announcement has come some hesitancy about the future of the game, including its difficulty and access.

Users familiar with other games by The New York Times are aware of the paywall in front of much of The Times’ content and are afraid that Wordle will no longer be available for free. Noise about the possibility of a paywall has since died down in the following weeks, but the focus has shifted to the game’s content. 

With words like “bloke,” “spill,” and “vivid” as some of the more recent Wordle answers, users have expressed their concerns with how difficult the game has become now that The Times has acquired it. TikTok user @lyndsayland made a video on Feb. 13, with the caption “Does anyone else feel like the wordles keep getting harder each day since the New York Times bought it?”

While some words may be more challenging, this has nothing to do with The New York Times. The answers for Wordle were hand-selected by Wardle’s partner, Palak Shah, from a list of about 12,500 words – a list that was whittled down to 2,500. By looking at the website’s original source code (available here) and comparing it to the new site (here), both lists are virtually the same. The Times removed six words (agora, pupal, lynch, fibre, slave, and wench), either due to offensiveness or obscurity.

“At the time it moves to The New York Times, Wordle will be free to play for new and existing players, and no changes will be made to its gameplay,” The Times said in an official statement. Wardle echoes this in a statement of his own (Twitter) and has made no comment on the rumored increase in difficulty. 

March 23, 2022

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