The New York Times is buying Wordle

This photo illustration shows a person playing online word game “Wordle” on a cell phone in Washington, DC on January 11, 2022.

Stefani Reynolds | AFP | Getty Images

The New York Times acquires Wordle, an online game that apparently became popular overnight.

The move highlights the importance of the company’s gaming device, which hosts things like crossword puzzles and Spelling Bee, as a way to attract new subscribers.

“The Times remains focused on becoming the essential subscription for any English-speaking person seeking to understand and engage with the world. The New York Times Games are a key part of this strategy,” the company said in a statement. By the end of the third quarter, the company had approximately 980,000 gaming subscriptions.

Founded by software engineer Josh Wardle in October 2021, Wordle gives players six attempts to guess a mysterious five-letter word each day. The game became a cultural phenomenon earlier this month, with people sharing their scores in the form of emojis. Only 90 people played the game on November 1, according to the Times. About 300,000 people played in mid-January. The number is now in the millions.

The Times said in a statement that it acquired Wordle at a price in the low seven digits. The company said Wordle will be free to play for new and existing players. It added that no changes will be made to its gameplay.

In a statement posted on social media, Wardle added that he was working with the company to ensure that users’ gains and streaks are maintained.

– CNBC’s Alex Sherman contributed to this report.

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