Following Wordle’s dream-like purchase for over a million bucks, people have assumed new owners the New York Times would inevitably make changes for the worse. I mean, of course it would. It’s a big billion-dollar corporation buying a tiny morsel of joy. That always ends in sadness, right? And knowing those bastards, they’ll have made it harder just to screw with us!
Except, well, in the few days since the game’s old website started redirecting to the NYT’s newer domain, absolutely nothing has changed. Whatsoever. But this hasn’t stopped swathes of people believing otherwise.
As the Guardian pointed out this morning, the most common of these conspiracy theories is that since the takeover, some believe that Wordle has been changed to become more difficult. An argument that is spectacularly wrong in its explanation, given that the game’s selection of answers was pre-determined from the moment it launched in October last year. The answer for today’s puzzle was determined nearly half a year ago, and the NYT hasn’t changed that.
However, the fact that recent words have included “ULCER,” “ULTRA,” and “PAUSE” has certainly meant that, well, yes, it has been a bit trickier in the last week. (And were as nothing compared to the uproar in the UK on February 9, when “HUMOR” was the U-less answer.) These are words that avoid lots of people’s starting letters, or have many valid alternatives that may well fit. It’s just, these would have been the words that appeared on those days, whether the NYT bought it or not. Look at Twitter, though, and no one’s buying it.
But it’s been plenty hard before! Go check out #121 if you don’t believe me.
At the moment of transfer, when the Times switched Wordle over to their own servers, a fair few people lost their win streaks. This moment seemed to confirm everything anyone needed to know about how awful everything was about to become. Fortunately, presumably with international invention and support from NATO, the New York Times was able to recover people’s data within a few hours. Which is all something I think has been far too underrated, given that not a single one of us has ever created an account. We just sort of take it for granted that a cookie and a browsing history has us covered, and then expected that to work seamlessly for all of time.
Since then, as is a human’s wont, people are seeing patterns where there are none. We’re all convinced everything’s out to get us, that anything we like will be taken from us, and that the unforgiving cruelty of entropy means that all good things must end in a fiery heat-death. Because, well, that’s mostly true. But for now, at least, the only thing that’s changed about Wordle is the URL. How long that will last is a bigger, sadder question, but for now, cling to this morsel of happiness.