It’s hard to have not heard of Wordle by now. Anyone who uses Twitter has likely seen the assortments of yellow and green blocks filling up their timeline as people rush to post their scores and let their friends know how quickly they figured out the latest puzzle. It’s a simple and fun enough game, one that has led to rip-offs popping up by folks looking to make some money.
Right now, Wordle is free. Any PC, phone, or tablet can access the game at no cost. Many steps of how it came to be, and how it got so popular, have been documented across the internet. It was a passion project and creator Josh Wardle made it with no real intentions of making money, so he didn’t trademark it.
Unfortunately, this led to many copycats of the game appearing on app stores to try and cash in on its popularity. Not only did these apps outright steal the Wordle name, but they promised that for a cost, players could gain extra perks such as unlimited plays. One touted its “excellent customer support.”
At first, it felt like this was going to be an example of how people can ruin a good thing. Then, Apple removed the more blatant clones from its App Store. There are still a couple of games that use the same name, but these games at least play differently, unlike the clones that were removed.
— Jason Chase (@jchaser) January 12, 2022
While stealing ideas is in the very nature of video games itself — it’s possible the first Pong from Atari was a rip-off of the Magnavox Odyssey, for example — seeing techies try to cash in on someone else’s surprise success of a free game was extremely discouraging. Word association games like Wordle are not new, Wordle just happened to be what everyone jumped on. Thankfully, Apple removed these clones and word of mouth about them got around quickly, so hopefully there weren’t too many people who got caught up in one of these rip-offs.