Inside the lucrative wordization of online games


It’s no surprise that the viral online word game Wordle spawns many infectious variants, including Dordle (two Wordle-like games played at once) and its offshoot Quordle (a terrifying four games at once), as well such as Nerdle (a math game), Worldle (geography), New York’s own Subwaydle (six chances to guess a real subway ride with two different matches), and Lordle of the Rings, a replica of the five-letter word game from Wordle, except that all the answers come from the main text of “The Lord of the Rings” (including names like BILBO).

There are many more Wordle spin-offs, some less politically correct than others (Lewdle, anyone?). But what they all have in common is the hope of taking off like Wordle, which software engineer Josh Wardle sold in January to The New York Times for a whopping seven figures. The Times declined to comment on the possibility of acquiring Wordle offshoots, but online gaming experts say cashing in on Wordle spinoffs is only a matter of time.

“We could see monetization soon. We see it happening in games, both online and offline, with things like microtransactions and pay-to-win business models from big business,” said Bryan Wirtz, SEO writer for digital media agency Sprinkles Media, to TheWrap.”Imagine if a company offered gamers to jump on the next day’s word for a fee or an entire week’s worth of words [for Wordle]. For now, it’s a question of when, not if the creators will monetize these games.

Mike Grguric, CEO of Udonis, a game-focused mobile marketing agency, said there’s no doubt that game designers can and will make money from these new versions of Wordle. “The short answer is yes – and the long answer is yes. All games can be monetized,” he said, adding that word games are a major genre because word game players tend to play it for years. “Once you’re addicted, you’re addicted.”

Wordle’s popularity and countless offshoots also breathe new life into other well-known word games. Last month, entertainment company Scopely launched, an online version of the classic board game. “The popularity of puns further validates something we’ve known all along, which is that they play an important role in the lives of many people around the world,” said Beth Nations, vice president of growth. from Scopley for casual games, to TheWrap. “For Scopely, the popularity of Wordle and other games in the category just helps remind people how much they love word games.”

Matthew Inman, co-creator and creative director at Exploding Kittens and creator of the free mobile app word game “Kitty Letter,” agrees. “Puns almost always evoke the same two feelings in me. The first feeling is, ‘This puzzle is impossible. I’m a model. I can’t solve this.’ The second feeling is, “I did it. I’m a genius.” They let us use our wits to get a little dopamine with every puzzle we solved,” Inman told TheWrap. “Wordle does it beautifully.”

Share of US adults who play online/mobile games Wordle, Words With Friends and Candy Crush (Statista)

Word games can also serve to boost the ego of players seeking intellectual validation. “These games are emerging due to a renewed interest in competitive puzzle solving,” Inman said. “It’s more fun to see who has a bigger vocabulary than to see who can mash buttons on the Xbox controller the fastest.”

We’ve seen this derivative phenomenon before: the doodle-ization of the canine world, for example, which, according to PetCarePlus, began in 1969 with the breeding of the first Goldendoodle (a mix of the hypoallergenic Standard Poodle and the Golden Retriever), followed by other large half-poodle breeds including the Labradoodle, St. Berdoodle, and Sheepadoodle (all following the proliferation of small-breed “poos” such as the Cockapoo and Maltipoo in the early 20th century). We decline to say whether these trivia are included to inspire the new pet-friendly online game “Doodlewordle.”

As with doggie “doodles,” adding a form of “ordle” to a game name increases the chances of it finding a new audience for anyone searching Google. wordle.

Kelli Dunlap, clinical psychologist and assistant professor at the American University Game Lab, said “ordles” are “variations on a theme – taking the structure of a well-designed game and customizing it for a more specialized audience. could it lead to financial gain? Maybe – more visits to the site means more traffic, more exposure, donations, but probably not a seven-figure buyout,” she told TheWrap. added that the most likely benefit is to increase his stature as a game developer, connect with an already established fan base – or just have fun.

However, the association may not be entirely positive. Since Wordle was acquired by the Times, fans have been concerned that the now free game will eventually be moved behind the Times Games paywall, which costs $1.25 per week or $40 per year. Some don’t like the idea of ​​paying for online games – or maybe they just can’t afford it. The Times has not commented on when or if a subscription requirement will come into play.

But online gambling experts say that adding fees – or getting swept up in the New York Times – isn’t the only way to make money from an online game.

The mind-blowing Quordle, created by Freddie Meyer from an early prototype by engineer David Mah in what Meyer called “a moment of evil and genius”, offers players the modest option of donating by purchasing “coffees” for Quordle for $5.

However, Udonis chief Grguric said there are many more efficient ways to make money from an online game, including creating a game app and charging for downloads, or selling games. in-app ad space on the game page. usefulness for marketers: “All they do is tell you the person who played Wordle (or any game),” he added. mentioned.

Gguric cited the online game phenomenon Flappy Bird, launched in May 2013 by Vietnamese developer Dong Nguyen. In January 2014, BusinessofApps reported that the game had reached 50 million downloads, becoming one of the top free games on Android and iOS app stores. The game’s author claimed that Flappy Bird generates $50,000 a day in in-app advertising and, according to Gguric, was responsible for launching a genre called hyper-casual (read: easy-to-play) games. “A simple game can bring in billions,” he said – and that can include easy-to-create clones.

However, Flappy Bird’s cloning has ruffled some feathers. According to BusinessofApps and several other sources, Flappy Bird has been criticized for a surprisingly similar design to Super Mario. And developer Nguyen pulled the game from app stores in February 2014, citing both guilt and the game’s overly addictive nature.

It remains to be seen how many more Worldle imitators will emerge, but for now, they seem to be quite the TREND.

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