If you’ve spent any time on Twitter in the last week, you’ve likely seen the emoji box grids invading your feed. That’s thanks to Word, a new puzzle game that has become something of an obsession for many since The New York Times I wrote about it just over a week ago.
Like other viral games, Word It’s deceptively simple: You have six chances to guess a new five-letter word. And that’s … more or less it. There is only one puzzle per day, and it is free to play with no ads. Its creator, a software developer named Josh Wardle, is apparently “overwhelmed” by the popularity of his game. But the fact that the game doesn’t have an app has allowed the developers to create their own version of the game.
One particularly egregious example comes from developer Zach Shakked, who created an app called “Wordla – The application.” At first glance, the app, which is subtitled “Word game everyone plays!”Could easily be confused with the original. The word grid looks almost the same and even uses the same color scheme. But the Shakked version also asks players to sign up for a “pro” subscription that costs $ 29.99 after a three-day “free trial.”
But between naming the app “Wordle” and running search ads against the term in the App Store, Shakked seems to have managed to capitalize on the popularity of the game originally created by Wardle. “This is absurd. 450 rehearsals at 1am last night, now at 950 and getting a new one every minute,” he wrote in a tweet that has since been made private. # 4 for “Wordle” on the App Store Let’s go to the fucking moon.
Shakked and Wardle did not respond to Engadget’s questions. But Shakked isn’t the only developer trying to cash in on the popularity of Word. Your app is one of at least six Word clones released on the App Store in the eight days since the original New York Times article on Word. Another, called “What Word – Wordle,” which charges a $ 0.99 in-app purchase to remove ads, claims to be the “No. 1 Word Game” in its App Store screenshots. (Actually, it ranks ranked number 7 in word games, according to its listing in the App Store).
Of course, rogue apps that prey on the popularity of a viral game are nothing new. Game developers have complained about the practice for years. Apple did not immediately respond to questions about Word clones in your store. But, thanks to the emails posted during the Epic v. Apple, we know that copycat apps have also been a source of frustration for Apple executives. “No one is reviewing these applications? Doesn’t anyone take care of the store? “Phil Schiller wrote in an email from 2012. Three years later, he complained that” I can’t believe we don’t yet have “automated tools to find scam apps.
Update 1/11 7:52 pm ET: App Store listings for the Word The clones are no longer accessible and the apps appear to have been removed from the store. We reached out to Apple for more information.
Update 1/11 10:05 pm ET: Apple confirmed to Engadget that it had removed the games from its App Store.
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