If you’re reading this in 2022, I’m pretty sure that you’ll immediately know what Wordle is. However, if you’re reading this in, say, the year 2050…or if you’ve been living under a rock for the past 6 months, here’s a quick synopsis of Wordle. Wordle is a online word-based game that was invented in 2021 by a Welsh software developer named Josh Wardle. The game presents players with a new 5-letter word game each day, and players must guess the word in six guesses.
Wardle originally created the game as something strictly for himself and his partner to play. However, the popularity of the game spread very quickly and was purchased by The New York Times in January 2021 for an undisclosed seven-figure sum.
When the popularity of the game began to ramp up, numerous clones of the games began to appear, such as Dordle (two Wordles at once), Quardle (four Wordles at once!), Octordle (eight Wordles at once!), and MANY other very entertaining clones that you can find here.
There’s no doubt that, at least for a while, Wordle was a legitimate phenomenon. So, as marketers and technologists, what can we take away from watching this craze unfold? I think the best way to analyze it is to examine the four best qualities of the game:
From the very moment you see the game, you’ll notice that everything about it is dead simple. There’s no extraneous navigation, no ads, no cross-promotion of other games or other fluff. Just the game. Ready for you to begin playing. Oh, and it’s formatted perfectly for a smartphone screen, which is where I imagine most players will engage with it. Even the game itself was designed to be simple. As you guess each letter of the word, the feedback is also simple: Green for correct, yellow for correct and in the wrong position, and gray for incorrect. Finally, the game doesn’t require you to sign up for an account or register at all. Just begin playing. Wordle is the epitome of why simple design always wins.
Another excellent quality of Wordle is that the word changes each day. This means that you have 24 hours to figure out today’s word, and then tomorrow, you start over with a new word. This is a brilliant strategy because this means that the game has a built-in magnet. Play it once and I bet you’ll feel a strong urge to come back tomorrow and play again. Oh, and of course the site tracks your game stats in a browser cookie and displays them to you at the conclusion of each day’s game.
Whether Josh Wardle knew it or not, he developed a game that would help to reinforce the “we’re in this together” mentality that has become a central social construct over the past 2+ years of our global pandemic. Indeed, each day’s word is the same for all players around the world, leading to a sense of community and camaraderie amongst players. All players are battling the same word, which makes the game equally inclusive and competitive.
But a beautifully designed game is no good unless it gets spread virally and played by millions of people, right? Well, that’s exactly what Wordle does. After you complete your daily game, you have the ability to share your result (spoiler-free, of course) on social media. This plays right into two of humanity’s prominent personality traits: First, many players will want to brag about their score to others to show how smart they are (or how difficult today’s word was). And secondly: FOMO. People who have never played the game will see all of the shared game results on social media and will want to find out what this game is all about. I can’t think of a better formula for a game to spread like wildfire.
So, how can you apply these qualities to your next entrepreneurial venture? How can your marketing, website, or mobile app achieve the same surge in popularity and success that Wordle experienced? First, I think it’s important to realize that phenomena like this only happen once in a blue moon. I think it’s important to remember Wordle’s humble beginnings. I truly believe that Josh Wardle wasn’t trying to get rich or create the most amazing and addicting game ever. He was simply trying to create some pure, simple and fun. So, my advice for anyone trying to replicate Wordle’s success is to try to not think about how you might get rich from your next idea. Instead, just try to create something that’s simple, addicting, builds a community, and is shareable. If you build something that truly delights your audience, your success is nearly guaranteed.
Interested in finding out how Torx can help you create and market your next big idea? Contact us today to find out more about our services, or just brag about your latest Wordle score!
About the author:
Partner, Director of Technology
Jeff is one of Torx's founding partners and serves as the agency's Director of Technology. He built his first website back in 1996 and has never looked back. Jeff wears many hats at Torx: front-end designer and developer, server administrator, and resident Apple enthusiast.