The developer who created an iOS clone of Wordle — the word-puzzle game that’s gone viral in the last two weeks — issued a mea culpa (sort of) after getting dragged online for ripping off the idea and gleefully bragging about profiting from it. His apology also followed Apple’s removal of his copycat app from the App Store.
The original Wordle behind the craze, created by Brooklyn software engineer Josh Wardle, is available to play for free on the web at this link. There’s no official app version of the game — which led several opportunists to create clones looking to cash in by adopting the name and gameplay format.
One of those was created by a tech entrepreneur Zach Shakked, whose “Wordle – The App” went live Monday on Apple’s App Store. The game offered five-, six- and seven-letter words (the original Wordle has five letters) as well as a “pro” mode with unlimited play for a $30 annual subscription.
In a Twitter thread posted late Tuesday, Shakked — after getting attacked on social media for blatantly copying the original viral hit — acknowledged his mistake. “I realize I crossed a line. And I surely, surely will never do anything remotely close to this again. I fucked up,” he wrote.
Earlier Tuesday, Shakked had boasted about how his ripoff app was taking off: “I’m literally giddy right now – that’s 5.4k downloads in 1 FUCKING HOUR,” he tweeted at one point. He also exulted, “We’re going to the fucking moon.”
After publicity over the shameless Wordle ripoff apps, Apple removed Shakked’s game and others from the App Store on Tuesday.
The outrage over the Wordle clones was heightened because Wardle hasn’t tried to monetize the game to this point. In an interview with the New York Times published last week (which clearly supercharged its popularity), Wardle said he created the game for his partner, who’s a fan of crosswords. “I think people kind of appreciate that there’s this thing online that’s just fun,” he said. “It’s not trying to do anything shady with your data or your eyeballs. It’s just a game that’s fun.”
While Shakked professed to be sorry, he also tried to defend his actions and…