By Jennifer Korn, CNN Business and the Associated Press
The New York Times has acquired Wordle, the explosively popular game that gives players six chances to guess a five-letter word daily.
And PlayStation-maker Sony is escalating its competition with Xbox-maker Microsoft by buying the video game studio Bungie behind one of Xbox’s hit games.
First, the Wordle deal
The Times, which announced the purchase of the game on Monday, is adding the puzzle to their portfolio of word games such as The Crossword, The Mini and Spelling Bee. As of December 2021, the New York Times (NYT) has over one million Games subscriptions.
“The Times remains focused on becoming the essential subscription for every English-speaking person seeking to understand and engage with the world. New York Times Games are a key part of that strategy,” according to the statement. “Wordle will now play a part in that daily experience, giving millions more people around the world another reason to turn to The Times to meet their daily news and life needs.”
Josh Wardle, a Brooklyn-based software engineer formerly at Reddit, released the game in October 2021, and it quickly became a cultural phenomenon. Millions of people now play Wordle every day, according to the Times.
In a statement released on Twitter Monday, Wardle wrote of the game’s success, “I’d be lying if I said this hasn’t been a little overwhelming. After all, I am just one person, and it is important to me that, as Wordle grows, it continues to provide a great experience to everyone.”
Wordle, purchased for a price the Times described as being “in the low seven figures,” will initially remain free to new and existing players. “We don’t have set plans for the game’s future,” Jordan Cohen, executive director at The Times, said in an email. “At this time, we’re focused on creating added value to our existing audience, while also introducing our existing games to an all new audience that has demonstrated their love for word games.”
Wardle is working with The Times to ensure that, once the game moves to the paper’s site, existing players’ wins and streaks are preserved, according to his statement.
The Sony deal
Sony Interactive Entertainment said Monday it would spend $3.6 billion to buy Bungie Inc., an independent game publisher based in Bellevue, Washington. Bungie makes the popular game franchise Destiny and was the original developer of Xbox-owned Halo.
Microsoft bought Bungie in 2000, but later spun off the game studio in 2007 while retaining intellectual property rights to the Halo franchise.
Sony is one of the world’s biggest video game companies, but Microsoft has been ramping up its gaming ambitions, most recently by announcing plans to buy high-profile game publisher Activision Blizzard for $68.7 billion. Acquiring the owner of titles like Call of Duty and Candy Crush would immediately put Microsoft ahead of Nintendo as the third-biggest gaming company in global sales, behind Japan’s Sony and Chinese tech giant Tencent.
Xbox’s top executive, Phil Spencer, told news site Axios last year that “we’ve learned a lot” since letting go of Bungie. Spencer on Monday tweeted his congratulations to PlayStation for “adding a talented team” to its game studios.
Bungie started in Chicago in 1991 and made its early hits, such as Myth and Marathon, for personal computers. It now employs about 900 people and is based not far from Microsoft’s headquarters in Redmond, Washington. Sony’s video game division is centered in San Mateo, California.