What Is Wordle? How To Play The Hottest New Free Puzzle Game Everyone Is Talking About

A new word guessing game is taking over social media mentions and providing bragging rights to those who can successfully complete a once-a-day puzzle.

What Is Wordle? Created by Josh Wardle, Wordle is a daily word game named as a play on the creator’s name and it being a word game. Wardle created a similar prototype back in 2013 but scrapped the idea after his friends were unimpressed.

The game was created as a way to kill time during the COVID-19 pandemic and for his partner, Palak Shah, who loves games.

In November, Wardle launched the game to the public via a website powerlanguage.co.uk/wordle/. Only 90 people played the game on Nov. 1, according to the New York Times. Two months later, more than 300,000 people are playing the game.

“I think people kind of appreciate that there’s this thing online that’s just fun,” Wardle said.


Wardle is a former software engineer at Reddit, where he helped create collaborative social experiments called The Button and Place.

Wardle’s partner helped get the game ready for public launch. She went through a list of 12,000 five-letter words and selected which ones she was familiar with, narrowing down the list to around 2,500 possible Wordle answers to be used.

How To Play Wordle: Played as a game via desktop browser or mobile browser, the web-based game gives players six guesses to select the right daily five-letter word. The word is the same for all players and only one game can be played per day, beginning at midnight in each users’ time zone.

Each five-letter guess has to be a recognized word. Upon guessing, tiles will change color. Green tiles indicate that the letter is correct in the right spot. Yellow tiles identify the letter is in the word but located in a different spot. Gray tiles represent letters that are not in the word.

Wordle offers an easy (default) mode and hard mode. The hard mode makes users guess words that fit with all parameters already guessed, such as the letters already guessed and the right locations.

Surge In Popularity: One item that has helped Wordle soar in popularity is the sharing element, which wasn’t officially launched until mid-December.

Wardle said he noticed users making their own grids of green, yellow and black emojis to share their guesses and results without giving the word away.

Wardle then built an automated way for users to share their results in a spoiler-free way. Sharing a daily puzzle shows how many guesses it took and the green, yellow and gray tiles. Several times Wordle and a puzzle number have trended on Twitter Inc TWTR due to the difficulty of the word.

Google Trends, powered by Alphabet Inc GOOG GOOGL, show the continued rise in searches for Wordle, outpacing popular video games.

The game has also seen celebrities sharing their success or failures with the game.

What’s Next?: Wardle said part of the appeal is the limit of one game per day, which leaves people wanting more.

Another item players are likely fans of is the lack of ads on the website and not needing to sign in with a username and password or provide an email address.

As the game surges in popularity, it will likely lead to some gaming companies reaching out to Wardle.

Words With Friends, which is a social game that combines elements of creating words like in Scrabble, was acquired by Zynga Inc ZNGA years ago and monetized by the mobile game company.

Candy Crush became one of the most popular mobile games for parent King Digital, which eventually led to a buyout from gaming company Activision Blizzard, Inc. ATVI.

Given the lack of ads and players only being able to use six tries and guess one word per day, it's not hard to imagine the easy monetization efforts a larger gaming company could undergo. Players could be offered in-game purchases of extra guesses, extra daily words and shown advertisements too.

For now, Wardle is content with the game being free and shared with the world.

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