Wordle rip off aims to monetise viral app

$29 subscription for new version of free game described as ‘naked cash grab’ by critics

Anthony Cuthbertson
Wednesday 12 January 2022 17:26
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An app developer has provoked an online backlash after releasing a new version of the hugely popular word-guessing game Wordle and attempting to monetise it.

The inventor of the original game, Josh Wardle, intended to keep the app demonetized and ad-free, having created it for his word game-loving partner. He released it to the public for free in October after it proved popular with his family, and it soon became a social media sensation after people shared their results online.

The game involves guessing a mystery five-letter word, known as the ‘wordle’, in six tries or less. Once the word is guessed, or all six attempts are made, then the player is forced to wait until the following day to play again.

The new version, made by developer Zack Shakked, allows people to play unlimited times, but only if they pay $29.99 for a “pro” account.

It received tens of thousands of downloads through Apple’s App Store this week but appears to have since been taken down.

“I love Wordle so much I decided to make my own Wordle app but with a twist!” Mr Shakked wrote on Twitter.

“There’s not just 5-letter words, but also 4, 6, and 7 letter words too! You can also play unlimited times if you’re on the Pro version.”

Technologist and blogger Andy Baio described the venture as a “naked cash crab” that plagiarises the name and interface of the original in the pursuit of profit.

“This guy shamelessly cloned Wordle (name and all)... and is bragging about how well it’s doing and how he’ll get away with it because Josh Wardle didn’t trademark it,” he wrote. “So gross.”

Mr Shakked is not the first to rip off the game, though it appears to be the first attempt to make money out of the viral hit.

Software engineer Katherine Peterson built a version of the game that can be played without the daily limits, which she released in December.

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