Wordle enthusiasts are I-R-?-?-E about the changes its new owner, The New York Times, has made to their favorite addictive online game. In fact, you might say there are downright R-?-L-E-D. Their biggest peeves: 1) Ad trackers? Really?, and 2) Has it gotten a lot – like, A LOT – harder?
When the New York Times announced in late January that it had acquired the online game craze Wordle for a low seven figures, the newspaper made promises to Wordle players – like it would remain free (at least at first) and that records of players’ winning streaks would be preserved under the new ownership.
And although there have been some reported minor glitches on the streak-maintaining front, so far, The Times has kept its promise to keep the game free to all. But that hasn’t prevented Wordle fans from publicly griping that things are just not the same under the aegis of the New York Times.
Tech news site Gizmodo posted earlier this week about the general dissatisfaction with the changes, going as far as to say The Times is “ruining” the game.
“It’s been less than a month since the New York Times bought Wordle, but it’s wasting no time in ruining everyone’s favorite word game in all the s—y ways you’d expect from a billion-dollar behemoth,” it wrote. “And—you guessed it—that means your little daily puzzles are being loaded with ad trackers now, too.”
According to Gizmodo and others, the ad tracking is particularly offensive since the original version of Wordle was notably free of ad trackers.
Another publication, The Verge, reported that the New York Times solutions diverged in at least one case from the original version of Wordle hosted at powerlanguage.co.uk/wordle and that it has cleaned up its acceptable five letter word list and has “removed rude words like “p—y” and “whore” from possible guesses.”
Users have accused The Times of changing the “vibe” of the game by making the word list harder, which the newspaper categorically denies, but does note that except for the aforementioned removals, Wordle’s acceptable words have remained the same since the day the game launched in October 2021 by its creator, software engineer Josh Wardle.
Such reports have not, however, kept suspicious players from taking to social media to opine that something’s amiss in Wordle-land. And the fact that the game is so hot that pop culture arbiter Rolling Stone has declared Wordle’s “hip-hop appeal” means there are plenty of consumers available to offer their often four-letter criticisms of the new owner’s takeover of the five-letter game.
Here are but a few:
And this one, including a link to an Input magazine story on ad tracking: