Angry, Annoyed, Furious, Fooled – Wordle’s counterfeits leave free-to-play fans furious

Angry, Annoyed, Furious, Fooled – Wordle’s counterfeits leave free-to-play fans furious

The hugely popular puzzle game Wordle found itself in the midst of an unexpected controversy this week as the counterfeit versions attempt to make money from the free-to-play game.

Developed just two months ago by a software developer Josh wardle for his wife who loves puzzles, the concept of the game is simple: players have to guess to spell a five-letter word correctly. In less than six guesses, players use clues to decipher the Word of the Day, which is the same for all players in the world on that day.

Guess a correct letter in the right place and the game becomes the green letter. A correct letter in the wrong place is yellow, and all letters that are not in the word are grayed out. That’s it.

That simple concept exploded this month, from a few dozen of Wardle’s friends and family playing in November to nearly three million people participating this week.

Wardle’s game is free-to-play and web browser-based, a move that has inadvertently opened the door for a number of imitators to launch app-based versions on Apple and Google devices, most of which are trying to do. pay users to play.

One of those releases, by New York-based app developer Zach Shakked, sparked particular anger online because he was so blatant about it, even tweeting what he was doing and gleefully reporting the number of people who download his game, which sold for US $ 29.99.

While Shakked has gained the most recognition, he’s far from the only one trying. About a dozen apps have popped up on the App Store in recent weeks, most of which mimic the look, feel, and concept of Wordle, while conveniently adding a price tag. Most of them mysteriously began to disappear from Apple’s App Store from Tuesday as the online outrage began to spread.

Users are unhappy

An Apple spokesperson declined to confirm or deny that the company had decided to remove the apps, but a review of the App Store user agreement shows why many of them are in fact breaking the rules.

“Don’t just copy the latest popular app … or make minor changes to the name or UI of another app [user interface] and pass it off as yours, “the company advises.” As well as risking legal action for intellectual property infringement, it makes the App Store harder to navigate and just isn’t fair to your coworkers. developers. “

Unsurprisingly, Shakked has been besieged with criticism online. Julian Sanchez of Kitchener, Ont., Says the stunt is emblematic of issues for the tech industry as a whole.

“This willingness to look at things that are already working and try to find a way to fit in so that they can make money is at the heart of the tech industry,” Sanchez told CBC News. . “It’s not really about big problems – it’s about trying to get a piece of the pie.”

Adam Kertesz is one of the game’s many fans, and he says he got his family hooked as well. (Kory Siegers / CBC)

Sanchez said there was no need for fakes. “People love each other [Wordle] and it works, but God forbid, let something be free and fun and no one make money out of it. “

“He has this feeling of community”

For fans of the game, the original free version was a great form of self-care to get through the pandemic. Torontonian Adam Kertesz says he became addicted to the game the first time he played it and quickly turned his friends and family into dedicated gamers.

For Kertesz, one of the main selling points of the game is that it can only be played once per day, with a new word for all users at midnight each day. Most of the paid versions change the concept by adding the ability to play multiple games per day or play versions with more than five letters.

“It’s a word everyone has the same,” Kertesz said. “I like that about it.”

He also said that Wordle “has that sense of community… you feel like you’re part of something bigger.”

Donal O’Beirne, who works with data visualizations for a living, says he’s one of the millions who have become obsessed with gambling in recent weeks. (Kory Siegers / CBC)

Edmontonian Dónal O’Beirne, who runs a data visualization practice at ATB Financial, is another enthusiast.

“It’s a fantastic intellectual exercise,” he said. “This allows you to focus on analyzing word patterns and analyzing word frequency, analyzing letter frequency and cryptography… I’m a complete nerd on this. I am having so much fun. “

Stacy Costa, enigmatologist – or puzzle expert – at the University of Toronto, says the game’s popularity comes as no surprise.

“Those five or ten minutes of doing Wordle or any puzzle, you don’t think about everyone else,” she said.

“You are … fixing some of this chaos.”

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