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Clone Wars: Wordle

Sarayah Wright
Sarayah Wright
4 min read
Posted on January 19, 2022
Clone Wars: Wordle

From Words with Friends and Scrabble to Sunday paper crossword puzzles, everyone loves a word game.  

This was proved yet again with Wordle, an ad-free browser-only game created by Josh Wardle that’s going viral on social media. The untrademarked game saw a lot of copycats hit the App and Google Play Stores, and featured an automated way to post your wins, spoiler-free.  

Clone Wars 

Developers clone games all the time. We know this. Everything is either something old, something new or borrowed on App Stores.  

Since news of Wordle-gate got out, the developer behind the more infamous copycat has apologized, but the damage has already been done – and Apple is now removing all the copycats from its App Store. Wordle, the App came with a whopping $30 yearly subscription fee for access to unlimited puzzles in addition to countless in-app purchasing options.  

Why does this matter? Before all the backlash, Wordle, indistinguishable from its original web version or mobile copycats, enjoyed a good viral run online. And many are still posting screenshot gameplays to show off their linguistic prowess.  

Some Good News 

And there is some good news that came out of this mess, besides insights for the mobile gaming industry. There is another mobile game that has been benefiting from this scandal and viral moment—also named Wordle.

Though released five years ago, the app has increased a massive uptick in downloads due to the obvious confusion with the web game Wordle and its many mobile copycats. When Steven Cravotta saw over a hundred thousand new downloads of his Wordle game, which he had largely forgotten about, he also had a huge influx of revenue from in-app purchases. The two official Wordle creators, Steven Cravotta and Josh Wardle, are now teaming up to donate proceeds from this unexpected situation to a West-Oakland based charity.  

In a Twitter thread, Cravotta talks about how he initially built his Wordle as an 18 year old, “mostly for fun, to sharpen [his] coding skillz, and maybe make a quick buck.”  

18 or not, Cravotta was onto something. He created a simple game with an enjoyable premise and ability to generate money, thanks in no small part to it being covered by The New York Times, Wall Street Journal and Jimmy Fallon, among other publications that did not specify between all the similarly named apps. 

The Takeaway 

Publishers and developers can learn from then 18-year-old Cravotta. Word games are a surefire way to bring in a consistent audience, even without the luck of going viral – though doing so never hurts. There is also much to be learned from Josh Wardle, who embedded a way to automatically share good game runs onto social media on his browser-based game.  

What played out with Wordle joins the long-standing legacy of language-based games, apps, educational tools and even sports. Apps and casual games such as Wordscapes and Words With Friends continue to perform well on the App Store and Google Play Store, with consistent downloads even before this heightened interest in word-puzzle games.  

However, it is important to note that the cross-generational popularity we are witnessing of these games extends beyond browsers and mobile apps. From Reader Rabit to Bananagrams, the Wheel of Fortune to the Scripps National Spelling Bee, the ABCs are a tried-and-true genre of play and entertainment full of opportunities to inspire more content, like mobile games.  

We at InMobi can help you produce similar strategies to help monetize your games and prime them for success. Click here to see how.  

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