Wordle’s Huge Success A Surprise To Creator

By Ben Hamill - January 19 2022

Wordle’s Huge Success A Surprise To CreatorWhen Wordle puzzle creator Josh Wardle first launched his now-popular creation, he had not an inkling of an idea of just how popular the game would become. The game has gone from 90 daily users in November last year, to 300,000 at the beginning of January. And last weekend, the number of daily users hit the 2 million-mark. 

The game’s incredible rise to fame came as an unexpected surprise for software engineer Josh Wardle, who lives with his puzzle-loving partner in Brooklyn. Initially built for his partner and meant for hours of fun on the sofa at the couple’s home, it didn’t take long for more users to ask to join in the fun.

The game is deceptively simple, with a new word to guess each day. Players get only six chances to identify the secret word. And this absolute simplicity is considered to be the number one reason behind Wordle’s meteoric rise to fame.

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Here’s Why Wordle Is Different

In an advertising-focused era of apps and games belligerently vying for people’s attention, time, and willingness to spend, the game was built to be different. It has no features or prompts or other gimmicks designed to promote its popularity: this means no push notifications, must-watch ads, or email-registered logins.

Perhaps not surprising then is that for Wardle, the rise of his creation to the top hasn’t been all cheerfulness and buffoonery. In fact, it’s all been slightly overwhelming because Wardle, who originally hails from Wales, now feels a sense of responsibility to keep things running and functioning at capacity.

Still, he says he derives great comfort from the reassurance that his game has been a source of so much joy and connection for so many people during difficult times. Wardle says he gets regular emails from people thanking him for the game and how it has connected them with folks they don’t get to see all that often.

Wordle Reminds Of Simpler Times

Also likely part of the game’s massive appeal is that it reminds people of a simpler and more innocent time, when the internet wasn’t yet regarded a playground for companies engaging in predatory behaviour in an attempt to get people to play their games and make use of their apps.

Adam Procter, who heads up a game design course at Southampton University, agrees, as does head of game design technology at Staffordshire University, Professor Chris Headland. Both experts agree that Wordle probably benefited from its timing.

The next big decision for Wardle is to decide whether to grow the game further. Since he holds down a full-time job, Wardle says he wants to avoid the game becoming a time-consumer and source of stress.