Jan 31, 2022 - Economy

New York Times buys viral "Wordle" game


Photo: Stefani Reynolds/AFP via Getty Images

The New York Times on Monday said it bought Wordle, a viral online game that tasks players with identifying a new word puzzle each day. While full deal terms weren't disclosed, The Times noted that it paid "in the low-seven figures."

Why it matters: The company has been doubling down on games as a means to lure subscribers.

  • New subscriber growth continues to come from non-core news products, like games, as well as cooking and its consumer reviews website Wirecutter.
  • The Times' Games and Cookings subscriptions both surpassed 1 million paid subscribers in December.

The big picture: The Times has been publishing daily crosswords for decades, but has recently began to really focus on other digital games, and their potential for subscriptions.

  • The company launched a subscription Crossword app in 2016. It's since grown its gaming franchise to include a slew of brain-teasers, like "The Mini crossword," "Spelling Bee," "Letter Boxed," "Tiles" and "Vertex."
  • The company said its games were played more than 500 million times in 2021.
  • In 2020, The Times hired Jonathan Knight, a digital games veteran, as NYT Games general manager.

What's next: The Times said in a statement that Wordle will be free to play for new and existing players, "and no changes will be made to its gameplay."

  • Asked if the game would include ads, a spokesperson said "not at this time."

Go deeper: NYT's games strategy

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