Well it’s finally happening. The New York Times is messing with Wordle. After months of unfounded speculation the new custodian was making the daily word game harder, the paper is now actually ringing the changes.
In a blog post, the NYT confirmed Wordle is getting an editor, meaning the daily answers will be selected by the Times’ associate puzzle editor Tracy Bennett. That’s instead of the list of words put together by the creator, the Welsh software engineer Josh Wardle, who sold the game for ‘low seven figures’ in January 2022.
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The NYT says the five-letter answers will be selected from a similar set of words, but with a focus on variety and accessibility. We might also get more fun and livelier words than usual.
“Wordle’s gameplay will stay the same, and answers will be drawn from the same basic dictionary of answer words, with some editorial adjustments to ensure that the game stays focused on vocabulary that’s fun, accessible, lively and varied,” the announcement says.
That’s not the only change, the Times says. It is getting rid of plurals as possible answers. Plural words ending in ‘S’ and ‘ES’ can be used to narrow down the answer, but they won’t be the answer. That could actually make things a little easier.
In the blog post, Everdeen Mason writes: “…the answer will never be FOXES or SPOTS, but it might be GEESE or FUNGI. As the game is currently designed, FOXES or SPOTS can be used as a guess word to help narrow down the answer, but FOXES or SPOTS will not be the answer.”
It’s also possible that Wordle might indeed get a little harder. “After nearly a year of speculation, it will finally be our fault if Wordle is harder,” the company jokes.
It certainly wouldn’t be a surprise if that was the case. The New York Times Crossword, for example, gets harder as the week goes on, with Monday’s puzzle being the easiest, and Sunday’s the hardest. The NYT also has an editor for its Spelling Bee game, which requires users to form as many words as possible from nine letters, so this was probably inevitable.
Wordle is now fully integrated within the New York Times Crossword app, where it remains free to play. That’s one thing that isn’t changing, at least for now.