Wordle creator promises viral game will stay simple and ad-free

·3 min read

A free and simple online word game that has gone viral will never become attention-grabbing or ad-laden, its creator has promised.

Wordle challenges people to find a five-letter word in six guesses, with a new puzzle published every day.

It has amassed a following of 300,000 people in three months.

But creator Josh Wardle told the BBC Radio 4's Today programme that he never intended for it to go viral and wants to maintain its simplicity.

The game is available online through a free website - but does not have a smartphone app.

"I am a bit suspicious of mobile apps that demand your attention and send you push notifications to get more of your attention," he said.

"I like the idea of doing the opposite of that - what about a game that deliberately doesn't want much of your attention? Wordle is very simple and you can play it in three minutes, and that is all you get.

"There are also no ads and I am not doing anything with your data, and that is also quite deliberate."

The puzzle game offers just one five-letter word each day: the same word for everyone playing.

Players begin by guessing any five-letter word.

  • If any of the letters are in the word but in the wrong place, they turn gold

  • If they are in the word in the right place, they turn green

  • If they are not in the word, they turn grey

The goal is to get to the answer within six guesses.

People can then post how quickly they solved the colourful grid on social media, but in a way that doesn't spoil the answer for those still playing.

Mr Wardle, who is a software engineer for social media platform Reddit, told the Today programme that he came up with a prototype in 2013, but his friends weren't keen on it.

Just fun

The decision to allow people to share their grids on social media is why he thinks it has captured the imagination of thousands.

The latest iteration of the game was initially designed for just himself and his partner.

"Last year, my partner and I got really into crosswords and word games and I wanted a game for us to play each morning as part of our routine."

He then shared it with his family on WhatsApp before opening it up to the public.

Asked whether he planned to make money from it, he said: "I don't understand why something can't just be fun. I don't have to charge people money for this and ideally would like to keep it that way."

Mr Wardle does have a history of creating popular games, such as Reddit's The Button. In it, a button appeared on the website with a 60-second countdown and had to be pressed by someone anywhere in the world to keep the game running.

The experimental game lasted for more than two months - from 1 April 2015 to 5 June that year - before a minute passed without anyone pushing the button.

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