Why Wordle went viral
The Future. Wordle, the new word puzzle game, has gone viral — you’ve probably seen the green and yellow squares all over your timeline by now. Whether you’re still confused or fully addicted, there are some key characteristics behind the game’s success. In the age of ad tracking and endless social media, Wordle’s success may reflect a growing desire for simple, straightforward fun — no strings attached.
Wordle is taking over the internet.
- Wordle is a simple daily word game where players try to guess a five-letter word. Players have six attempts, and the game provides subtle color-based hints.
- The game was created by Josh Wardle, a software engineer at MSCHF, who originally built it to play with his puzzle-loving partner.
Wardle launched the game publicly in October, and in just several weeks, it began to go viral. Today, Wordle’s user base has exploded from 1,000 to 2 million players.
What’s the secret behind Wordle’s success? Psychologists and game theorists have a few guesses. Some point to how shareable and visual Wordle’s charts are. Philosophy professor C Thi Nguyen describes Wordle as a “triumph of social graphic design,” pointing out how “each little posted box is a *neat synopsis of somebody else’s arc of action, failure, choice, and success.”
Another theory gives a nod to the game’s innocent simplicity. There are no ads to be clicked, apps to be downloaded, or levels to beat. You can only play once a day. And, even though VCs have approached Wardle to “take the game to the next level,” he says he has no desire to turn a profit off it. As Wardle himself notes, “People have an appetite for things that transparently don’t want anything from you.”