New York Times takeover of Wordle draws fan backlash

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Feb 1 (Reuters) – The New York Times Co’s (NYT.N) acquisition of Wordle has created an uproar on social media as fans fear the popular online word game, which is currently free to play, could be placed behind a paywall. .

Announcing on Monday that it had purchased Wordle for an undisclosed seven-figure price, The Times said the game would “initially” remain free for existing and new players.

This wording has led some social media users to suggest that the media company will soon allow access only to subscribers.

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“I have never seen Twitter so immediately angry as over the NYT Wordle takeover,” one user tweeted. “The NYT took a simple, enjoyable thing that a lot of people really loved, a silly bit of fun in our exhausting, dark times, and hinted they would stick it behind a paywall.”

After creating Wordle to play with his girlfriend Palak Shah, software engineer Josh Wardle released it to the public in October. Within months it had become a worldwide phenomenon, with celebrities such as Trevor Noah joining the bandwagon.

Playing online once a day gives the player six chances to find a five-letter word, using the fewest guesses.

Wordle, a word game played on mobile phones and tablets. REUTERS/Andrew Boyers/Illustration

“I would be lying if I said it hasn’t been a bit overwhelming,” Wardle said during a Publish on Twitter. “After all, I’m just one person, and it’s important to me that as Wordle grows, it continues to provide a great experience for everyone.”

The Times said it expects the acquisition to expand its digital content as it tries to reach the goal of 10 million subscribers by 2025.

The newspaper was an early adopter of the paywall when it launched digital subscription plans in 2011. This strategy has helped it reverse declining print revenue and create a digital business.

It also purchased other digital media such as subscription audio app Audm and product review website Wirecutter. Last month, he agreed to pay $550 million in cash for sports site The Athletic.

As The Times also seeks to grow paying readers outside of its core news content, games and puzzles have become a key part of a strategy to keep its audience engaged on its apps and Web sites.

Its Games unit, which has more than one million subscriptions, started with the Daily Crossword and later launched games such as Spelling Bee, Tiles, Letter Boxed and Vertex.

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Reporting by Supantha Mukherjee in Stockholm, Tiyashi Datta and Yuvraj Malik in Bengaluru; Editing by Anil D’Silva and Catherine Evans

Our standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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