Is Wordle harder since 'The New York Times' took it over? Its users think so

The game seems to have offered a string of particularly tough words in the week since it was bought by the publication, leaving fans worried

Wordle fans are questioning if the game has become harder since being acquired by 'The New York Times'. AFP
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For Wordle fans around the world, the news that The New York Times had bought the popular game and would be taking over its running was met with mixed reactions.

Many were worried about the possibility of the game being locked behind a paywall in the future, but what people didn’t see coming was the takeover making the game more difficult.

Since the game moved to The New York Times’s platform last week, social media has been awash with complaints from fans who claim the words have become much more difficult to guess.

On Monday, when the winning word was “cynic”, one Twitter user tweeted: “If I was being a cynic, I’d say the NYT are making #Wordle a lot more difficult.”

Another said: “I don’t know guys... Wordle just feels different since [The] New York Times took over.

“These words are just so randomly random. Two days in a row of me like, 'That word?! Really!?' This win isn’t even joyous.”

ABC journalist John Kapetaneas said: “NYT: No, we did not make Wordle harder. We promise.

“Also NYT: Today’s Wordle is KHYBX — which everyone knows is a popular 11th-century Latin delicacy derived from quicksand extract. Duh.”

However, despite a string of particularly tricky words this week, including “ultra” and “ulcer”, The New York Times has denied making any changes to the game. In a statement to The Guardian, the publication said nothing has changed about the gameplay”.

However, The Guardian journalist Alex Hern said in a tweet that The New York Times has now changed its statement.

Literally one day ago, the NYT denied in a statement to The Guardian that it had made any changes to the gameplay of Wordle,” Hern said on Twitter. “At that point, it had already in fact substantially altered the list of acceptable words; today, it’s edited the actual answer itself.”

The changes made byThe New York Times include removing a number of offensive words from the game's library, meaning that those words will no longer be accepted as recognised answers when inputted as a guess.

In a new statement to Polygon, a representative of The New York Times said: “Offensive words will always be omitted from consideration. As we have just started Wordle’s transition to the Times website, we are still in the process of removing those words from the game play.”

The paper snapped up the viral game in January for “an undisclosed price in the low seven figures”, a move the game’s creator Josh Wardle said felt “very natural” to him, as The New York Times’s games “play a big part in its origins”.

The game’s two million-strong fan base were worried that Wordle may soon be put behind the publication's paywall, although it said Wordle will remain free to play “initially” for new and existing players.

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Updated: February 16, 2022, 2:33 PM