The Feared NYT Wordle Divergence Has Begun

The Feared NYT Wordle Divergence Has Begun
Photo: Stefani Reynolds, Getty Images

Millions woke up today and played Wordle just like they always do, but not all of them were chasing the same right answer. Contrary to earlier statements by new owner The New York Times, the internet puzzle sensation has undergone a few changes, leading to a split between those playing the old version and those playing the new one.

Spoiler warning: We’re going to discuss and name the divergent answers for today’s Wordle puzzle so if you haven’t played yet turn back now. You’ve been warndled.

Kotaku first caught wind of the changes early this morning when it received an email from a confused tipster. “My wife and I both did Wordle today, I am still using the powerlanguage.co.uk app somehow, and my wife is on the NYT App.” he wrote. “We got similar but different words this morning.”

Those still accessing the original version created by Josh Wardle had “Agora” as the correct answer, while those playing the version now owned by The New York Times after it paid Wardle a low seven-figure sum had “Aroma.” This deviation comes just a day after Times communications director, Jordan Cohen, told The Guardian in an email that “Nothing has changed about the game play,” in response to player complaints that Wordle was getting more difficult. This also all comes after some players’ long-running Wordle streaks broke as The Times migrated the game to its own servers.

So what’s going on here? Well while The New York Times might not have intended to change up the game play, it did begin banning a series of words from Wordle’s database last week. These included racial and gendered slurs, but also other phrases like “pussy,” “pupal,” and “agora.” Agora, for those who aren’t familiar, refers to the public square in Ancient Greek cities.

The New York Times didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment about why it removed today’s former answer from the game. In a separate email shared on Twitter, Cohen said some words were removed to keep the game more accessible.

In the meantime, the divergence means a lot to those who have encountered it. Wordle is a personalised ritual that happens in a highly social context. Players share their results on Twitter and Facebook, and compare notes on victories and defeats over morning coffee. Having different answers completely undermines what gives the game meaning to so many. Kotaku’s token Brit, John Walker, initially pooh-poohed this change as meaningless, moments before discovering his three-person Wordle WhatsApp group was a victim of The Divergence. He has learned.

Of course, there’s one easy way for players to avoid a problem like that in the future, and that’s to refresh the URL for the game and make sure you’re playing via The New York Times. Though I can’t begrudge anyone for wanting to hang onto Wordle 1.0. Now a whole new audience can ride the live service game roller coaster.

Log in to comment on this story!