Wordle copycat creator apologizes for scamming popular free word game

Developer Zach Shakked – the creator of one of the many controversial copy versions of Josh Wardle’s popular free guessing game – responded to Apple’s removal of its app from the App Store after a backlash on the internet that followed its bragging about the money-making potential of its clone.

“I realize I’ve crossed a line. And I will surely never do anything close to that again. I fucked up, ”Shakked tweeted. He goes on to explain that “Wordle” itself was not a registered trademark and that Wardle’s play was similar to Jargon, an older game show with a similar word guessing mechanism. Shakked also says he plans to develop Wordle with more features and change the overall design of the app to make it look less like Wardle’s own game, if he could have done that before Apple took its app out of the store.

Wordle has exploded in popularity in recent weeks, with its minimalist design, everyday bite-sized puzzles, and the now iconic gray, yellow and green square grids. The original game is completely free to play and is played only through a web browser, allowing a number of copiers to try and make some quick cash with the concept on the App Store.

Shakked’s clone (called “Wordle – The App”) was one of the most publicized copies, thanks to the developer’s celebratory tweets about the project and the eyebrow-raising price – an optional $ 30 per year annual subscription. which would allow players to play an unlimited number of puzzles, instead of by Wordle one-per-day system. Shakked’s tweets also rubbed a lot of people the wrong way, bragging about how many downloads and subscription attempts his app was getting and how it was “doing on the fucking moon.”

Shortly after the reports of Wordle counterfeits have erupted, Apple has taken action, removing the offending apps from the App Store last night. Currently, there are only two puzzle games called “Wordle” left on Apple’s storefront, both of which offer very different types of puns from Wardle’s viral hit and predate the web application by several years. . (On the other hand, the other Wordles seem to benefit greatly from the success of Wardle’s game, with both apps skyrocketing the App Store charts).

In a separate thread, Shakked also said he spoke to Wardle and offered to license the idea, work together to develop an official app, or pay him a percentage of any profit, which Wardle reportedly refused. Shakked also claims he told Wardle he “would consider changing the name” before the app was completely removed.

Wardle, for what it’s worth, has already been extremely clear on the idea of ​​monetizing Wordle (Who, as he explained in a New York Times interview, was originally created as a gift for her partner). “I think people kinda appreciate that there’s this thing online that’s just fun,” Wardle said. “It’s not about trying to do something fishy with your data or your eyes. It’s just a game that’s fun.

The aftermath of the flashback appears to have soured Shakked (who had previously complained on Twitter about how “[s]copying / pasting ideas / features without hooks will get you nowhere “) on the idea of ​​copy apps in the future.” I will go back to building apps based on my original and always green ideas and don’t never fuck with something like that from a distance again, ”Shakked’s thread concludes.

Zach Shakked did not respond to the request for comment.

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