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Wordle Brings Accidental Windfall To Another Dev, Who Gives It All To Charity

Next week: Wordle ends all world conflict, saves puppy from drowning

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A screenshot of the word game Wordle, with some deliberately silly guesses.
Screenshot: Josh Wardle / Kotaku

You know how everything is awful? Well, wait! This isn’t! Wordle, the super-simple Mastermind-like word game that has taken over planet Earth, seems to create goodwill in its wake—the latest being that of Steven Cravotta, whose five-year-old app with the same name has found itself at the top of the mobile charts. Except, rather than diving into his accidental riches, Scrooge McDuck-like, he’s giving it all to charity.

As spotted by GR+, Josh Wardle’s Wordle has led to squillions of confused players (hello!) accidentally downloading a five-year-old app with the same name to their mobile devices. The result being, creator of the other Wordle ended up receiving close to 200,000 downloads in a couple of days. More than it had received in total in the previous five years. And in turn, generating him a whole bunch of advertising revenue.


It’s easy to understand why. As Cravotta points out in a Twitter thread chronicling his experience, few of the major outlets covering the story bothered to mention it wasn’t a mobile app. When I first heard word of the phenomenon over the holidays, I went to Google Play, typed in “Wordle,” and downloaded the app that came top of the results. It was a bit rubbish, I wondered what the fuss was about, and at some point later read some responsible journalism that mentioned it was browser-only.


Cravotta explains that he made his Wordle in 2017 when he was 18, as an attempt to hone his coding. It did about 100,000 downloads over a few months, and he eventually gave up on it. Then last week he saw something very odd was happening. His sales graph had gone all spikey.

The developer’s thread goes on to say that the downloads didn’t slow down after hitting 200k. (Since, the Independent has reported it’s over 500k.)

Now, if it this were happening to you (not you, you), you’d just be rolling around in the cash on your bed, rubbing it into your unsettlingly naked skin. But not Steven Cravotta, who instead got in touch with Josh Wardle and asked him if there was somewhere he’d like the proceeds to be donated. They agreed on Boost! West Oakland, a charity that mentors and tutors young people in the West Oakland area. The surprise windfall is said to be around $3,000, and still growing.

This is in stark contrast to others who’ve attempted to bleed cash out of Wardle’s success, from which he has made no efforts to earn money, the game instead a sort of love letter to his partner.


You can support Cravotta (and indeed yourself) by getting his latest app, Puff Count, which aims to help people quit vaping. And if you want to increase the good fortunes of the good people at Boost!, you can donate right here.