Have we seen the end of Wordle?

Well, it was fun while it lasted, which for me was about three weeks. You see, I came late to the Wordle party and now it seems like it’s already over – or at least reached that stage where the police are on their way and someone has been sick on the stair.

America-based British software engineer Josh Wardle has pronounced himself “overwhelmed” by the success of the game and I imagine he’s equally slack-jawed at the seven figure sum the New York Times has paid for it. But there’s a reason for the paper’s largesse and I imagine it has nothing to do with rewarding a great idea which has given pleasure to millions and everything to do with driving subscriptions.

We don’t know yet what kind of hoops we’ll have to jump through to continue to play Wordle – handing over our email addresses? Enduring adverts? – but there’s bound to be a catch. There’s always a catch.

That said, Wordle really is a phenomenon so it’s no surprise it has attracted the attention of the media giant. There were a mere 90,000 daily users at the start of November but that had jumped to over 300,000 by the start of January, and in the first half of the month over a million results were posted to Twitter. Today, there are three million users and that’s certainly a conservative estimate.

Then again, perhaps it’s best for UK-US relations if users on this side of Pond do bow out. “Wordle sparks transatlantic rift as Brits denounce American English spelling of ‘favor’” screamed The Washington Post recently when that word came up. Vapor and rumor are two more mis-spellings waiting to catch us out.

So maybe it’s time to turn to one of the game’s many copyists. The best among them are Absurdle, where the target word changes with every guess, and Sweardle, in which you have four tries to crack a four letter word. “Congratulations you potty mouth” is the message which greets you when you complete the challenge.

Unlike Wordle, this column will not reset at midnight. You have to wait until next week for a new one.

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