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ID: 223735


Date: 2022-01-11

The App Store clones are here to profit off Wordle’s success

Wordle , the word-guessing puzzle game thats taken over our Twitter timelines, doesnt currently have an official app. That may come as a surprise to anyone whos searched for it on the App Store, though — earlier today, doing so would show you several blatant unofficial copies, each of which use the same name and mechanics as the original, which was made by Josh Wardle and distributed on the web for free. Most people whove been online recently will have had at least some exposure to Wordle if they havent been playing it themselves ( The Guardian reports it has 2 million daily players). Its a simple concept but done well: each day, you go to the Wordle website, where youre given six chances to guess a five-letter word. The game gives you feedback about what letters youve put in the right place, what letters are in the word, but not in the order youve picked and what letters arent in the correct answer. Certain parts of Twitter have been taken over by black, green, and yellow square emojis, which players use to show off their gameplay without spoiling the word of the day. As happens to most good ideas (especially the ones that go viral), there have been several clever parodies of Wordle, along with waves of jokes on Twitter using the emoji block format that players use to share their scores. But while many of the parody versions point users back to the original, this doesnt seem to be the case for the versions on the App Store. Instead, they try their best to look like the web version without mentioning that theyre actually a spin-off. Trying out five versions of the game from the App Store, only one seemed to acknowledge Wardles version — ironically, it was one of the few that didnt actually call itself Wordle. Related The situation is a little embarrassing for Apple, which has often cited its high standards and App Review process as a reason it should be allowed to keep control over which apps run on iPhones and iPads. The review process has been called into question by multiple scams and controversies, but these feel especially blatant — theyre using the same name and have an extremely similar interface to the original. Its easy to see many people being tricked into thinking that theyre playing an official version. Even worse is that the apps are copying a website, months after Apple championed progressive web apps in court as an option for developers during its legal battle with Epic Games. That argument may fall flat with developers targeting mobile audiences. As Owen Williams, a UX manager, points out on Twitter, they wont even get a seat at the table when someone searches for their creation on the App Store (which is something a lot of people might do if they, say, see a flurry of tweets with the name of a Cool New Thing everyones playing with). If Apple and Google were *actually* allowing proper competition, youd be able to register a PWA/web app in their stores if you choose that route instead of a native app. But uh, that doesnt help build their walled gardens so we get… thisTo add insult to injury, it appears that Wordle clones arent nearly as rampant on Googles Play Store. Only one of the first two dozen search results for wordle appeared to be a clone, and it was buried deep behind a show more button. Google Play reports the app has 500+ downloads — the developer behind one of the Wordle clones on iOS claimed to be getting 5,400 downloads an hour on Twitter, and their version wasnt even in the top three search results. (The same developer tweeted a screenshot of a notification saying that their app was waiting for review, with the caption lets see what Apple thinks prior to the app going live.) Wardle hasnt monetized his version of Wordle with ads, subscriptions, one-time payments, or a tip jar. Its totally free. According to a profile in The New York Times, he made the game for his partner, who enjoyed crossword puzzles. I think people kind of appreciate that theres this thing online thats just fun, Wardle said of Wordles success. Its not trying to do anything shady with your data or your eyeballs. Its just a game thats fun. The Wordle apps I tried havent copied the originals lack of a monetization scheme. Some showed a plethora of ads, often with the option of paying to remove them, and one even had a $30-a-year in-app purchase to unlock the Pro version. (That particular apps developer said on their now-private Twitter account that the app was going to the fucking moon and that one of their goals for 2022 was to make tons of fucking money.) Paying would let you choose how many letters you wanted in the words and would allow multiple games a day. As many have noted, the real Wordles once-a-day play is another one of the things that makes it so appealing. Added a share button to Wordle that generates a spoiler-free emoji grid for you. Shoutout to @irihapeta for inventing such a cool way to share your results each day. ⬛⬛⬛⬛⬛ ⬛ ⬛ Wordle 180 3/6Try it out: Wordles developer explaining the games share function. Most of the apps I tried didnt have any obvious copies of the originals share feature, which lets you easily copy a series of spoiler-free blocks to share with friends or on social media. The one that offered the $30 subscription, however, did — adding a few extra words and saying The Wordle App in place of Wordle. Keeping blatant copies off the App Store might not be an easy moderation task if Apple wanted to do it — for example, there are a few games on the App Store that share the Wordle name but not gameplay. However, theyre pretty obviously not trying to capitalize on a trend by copying a popular app — many of them havent been updated in years (and are therefore not likely requiring any judgment calls from App Review). It appears that Apple has decided to try, though. Roughly an hour after we published this post, we heard that the clones had started disappearing from the App Store. All the ones we saw that used the word Wordle in their title are now gone. The Verge reached out to both Apple and one of the developers behind a Wordle clone. Neither responded to our request for comment. Update, 7:50PM ET: Added that Wordle clones are now disappearing from the App Store. Correction, January 12th: The original version of this article stated that you get five tries to guess the Wordle word, when you actually get six. We regret the error.