The developer who created the iOS version of Wordle – the word puzzle game that has gone viral in the past two weeks – made a bug (sort of) after being dragged online to tear up the idea and happily brag about taking advantage of it. His apology also came after Apple removed his copycat app from the App Store.
The original Wordle Beyond Madness, created by Brooklyn software engineer Josh Wardle, is available to play for free on the web at this link. There is no official app version of the game – which has led many opportunists to create clones looking to make money by name approval and gameplay format.
One of these was created by tech entrepreneur Zach Shakked, whose Wordle – The App was launched Monday on the Apple App Store. The game offered five-, six-, and seven-letter words (the original Wordle had five letters) as well as a “Pro” mode with unlimited play for a $30 annual subscription.
in a Twitter theme Published late Tuesday, Shaked – after being attacked on social media for blatantly copying the original viral hit – has admitted his mistake. “I realized I crossed a line. And I certainly, certainly, would never do anything close to this again,” he wrote.
Earlier on Tuesday, Shaked bragged about how his ripoff is going: “I’m literally right now — that’s 5.4K DOWNLOADS IN ONE FUCKING HOUR,” he tweeted at one point. He also rejoiced, “We’re going to the damned moon.”
After publicity about rude Wordle ripoff apps, Apple removed Shakked and other apps from the App Store on Tuesday.
Anger at Wordle clones has grown because Wardle hasn’t tried to monetize the game to this point. In an interview with The New York Times published last week (which obviously increased her popularity), Wardle said he created the game for his partner, who is a fan of crossword puzzles. “I think people kind of appreciate that there’s something fun on the Internet,” he said. “It’s not trying to do anything shady with your data or your eyeballs. It’s just a fun game.”
While Shaked claimed to be sorry, he also tried to defend his actions and complained that he was being smashed over coals for something he claimed was routine in the industry. He wrote: “Wordle is a copy of another game,” and noted that “Wordle” has not been registered as a trademark.
“This was the perfect storm to publicly cross me for a common thing,” Shaked wrote on Twitter. “Within a week, my app would have looked completely different and had a lot more functionality than the original guy did.” He continued, “The outrage that I charged a subscription fee of $30 that thousands of people were willing to pay was just bananas. That’s how companies work. You get paid. If it’s too much, people won’t pay. In this case, many people were. ready to begin the trial.”
Shaked also claimed that he lost money from the app: “Yeah I was really excited when I saw how many downloads the app got. And how much money you can earn (I paid $0 and actually lost money). So nobody practiced here but me.” On January 3, he wrote on Twitter, “My resolutions for 2022: – be more realistic – be more rude – make the fucking lot of money.”
Additionally, Shaked said, “Another thing I’d like to ask you is how do you feel about Apple unilaterally removing apps with no recourse? I’ve spoken to lawyers and the original creator’s claim of ‘Wordle’ was very questionable.” Apple’s guidelines for app developers specifically advise, “Do not simply copy the latest popular app on the App Store, or make minor changes to another app’s name or user interface and mark it as your own.”
Wordle’s web popularity has exploded from Wardle: The site had 300,000 players a day in early January, and that number rose to 2 million last weekend, according to The Guardian.
In the US Apple App Store, it appears that only two games with the name Wordle are currently still available, and they both predate Wardle: “Wordle!” , which was first published in 2016 (described as a “timer-based word game” where you are given letters to create a word as fast as you can!”), and “Wordle – Word Puzzle”, released in 2018.