Last year web-based word game Wordle became an internet sensation and brought some unexpected traffic to an older game with the same name launched by Goldfinch Studios over five years ago.
According to Sensor Tower, since its launch in 2016 Goldfinch’s Wordle had only generated 31,800 downloads up until the end of 2021.
After the soar in popularity for Josh Wardle’s web game late last year the downloads for Goldfinch’s mobile game surged. In the first two months of 2022 the mobile game has accumulated over nine million downloads.
Last month was the mobile game’s best month yet for downloads at 6.7 million, a rise of 171 per cent from January 2022. Sensor Tower estimates that this generated Goldfinch approximately $500,000 in revenue for the month.
Part of the download spike can be attributed to confusion on the consumer’s behalf, with many leaving reviews that the game is not what others had told them it was.
On the coattails
Until a few months ago, the last update for Goldfinch’s Wordle was over five years ago in May 2016 (according to data.ai). Goldfinch has since started to provide updates for its long-forgotten title, starting in January 2022 with bug fixes and later adding new features, such as a daily word, and monetisation mechanics.
Wardle’s Wordle drew a lot of attention and eventually led to multiple clone games being uploaded to the App Store and Google Play to capitalise on this (Wardle’s web game was not monetised in any way). Although many of these were removed they have since started to reappear.
Wordle was so popular that it caught the attention of the New York Times which acquired the game for a "low seven figure" sum. Wardle has since spoken at GDC about how his lack of interest in running a games business pushed the sale to the NYT, as well as other experiences he had.
Wordlegate serves as an example that consumers are unlikely to do much leg work in searching for games to play on their phones, and that as companies such as Epic Games vie for third-party app store integration the majority are most likely to still visit the most well-known app stores for their downloads.