A developer whose five-year-old app has suddenly received half a million downloads because it shares its name with a viral sensation puzzle game has vowed to give the profits away.
Steven Cravotta, 24, developed word game Wordle when he was 18 and uploaded it to Apple’s App Store more than five years ago, but abandoned the project soon after and has not updated it since.
In recent weeks, another puzzle game – also called Wordle – has gone viral, regularly trending on Twitter as players share their results.
That game is played within a web browser, though, so when people search for an app, the first thing they come across is Mr Cravotta’s game.
He told the PA news agency: “I logged into my app development dashboard a week ago, and it was insane what I saw.
“I saw 200,000 downloads to Wordle, a game I hadn’t touched in five years, and like previously, I was getting maybe like two or three downloads a day.”
The web-based version of Wordle – created by British developer Josh Wardle – has been a huge hit over the last couple of months.
Mr Wardle has kept the game deliberately simple, with only one puzzle per day so it does not require too much time, and no adverts demanding the user’s attention.
Wordle 194 6/6
Almost hoisted by my own petard
— Josh Wardle (@powerlanguish) December 30, 2021
It requires players to guess a five-letter word, using green, yellow and grey blocks to indicate which letters are correct and in the right or wrong place.
The eye-catching patterns of blocks can then be shared on social media, which – along with media coverage and tweets from some famous fans – has sent many searching for the game themselves, with some instead finding Mr Cravotta’s game.
“Just yesterday I got 130,000 downloads on it, so the response to this has been absolutely insane – this is something I never could have even imagined,” he said.
The number of downloads for the 2016 game – which is also a word puzzle but with different rules – is now up to 500,000, and though the game itself is free, it is still leading to thousands of dollars of income.
And, after reaching out to Mr Wardle, he has decided to donate that money – which currently stands at around 3,000 US dollars (£2,200) – to Boost!, an organisation that provides free tutoring and mentoring to kids from disadvantaged areas of Oakland.
He said: “At the end of the day, all of this happened because of Josh’s app, right? And I want to respect his mission.
“So you know, whatever the figure is, this isn’t really about the money for me.
“This is about doing something something great for the world and, you know, I’m just happy to have this opportunity.”
Despite the confusion over the name, around 30% of people are returning to the app after downloading it to continue playing, Mr Cravotta said, adding it was “pretty good considering the fact that this isn’t really the app they’re looking”.
Mr Cravotta’s latest project is an app called Puff Count which aims to help people quite vaping.