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October 4, 2022
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Creator of Wordle copycat app says he ‘crossed a line’ following backlash

Creator of Wordle copycat app says he ‘crossed a line’ following backlash

A developer who created a copycat iOS version of Wordle admitted it was “wrong” to try and monetize the daily word game after he generated backlash online and Apple removed the clone from the App Store.

Developer Zach Shakked was among a handful of people who tried to monetize Wordle, a popular daily word game that gives users six attempts to guess a five-letter word.

The game, which is available online through a free website, does not have a smartphone app. Josh Wardle, the game’s creator, told BBC last week that he pledged to keep Wordle ad and subscription free.

Shakked came under fire this week after creating an iOS game called “Wordle — The App,” which launched on Monday. It offered users five-, six- and seven-letter words with the option for unlimited play with a $30 annual subscription.

Apple said it has since removed “Wordle — the App” and other clones of the free daily word game from its App Store. It is unclear how many apps were removed and when they disappeared from the app store. 

In a Twitter thread posted on Wednesday, Shakked said he was “wrong”

“I realize I crossed a line,” he wrote. “And I surely, surely will never do anything remotely close to this again.”

In the Twitter thread, he explained his logic behind creating the app.

“Here were my calculations,” he wrote. “a) Wordle is a ripoff of another game b) Wordle the word isn’t trademarked and there’s a bunch of other unrelated word apps named the same thing c) Wow, I’ll hack together something on the weekend and see if I can make a buck.”

He said he had also consulted with lawyers before doing so.

“I spoke to lawyers and the original creator’s claim to “Wordle” was highly dubious,” he wrote. “That plus the fact that the game is already a recycled version of another game …

“made me think there was an opportunity,” he added. “I was wrong. There wasn’t.”

He also said he spoke with Wardle on the phone for 30 minutes and “tried to convince him to a) let me pay a huge licensing fee (100k+), b) partner with me to develop the office Wordle app or c) send him a percentage of the proceeds.”

“When he informed me that he wasn’t interested in that, I told him I would consider changing the name and was looking at other options when Apple removed the app and was fully prepared to do so,” he wrote.

Wardle and Shakked did not immediately respond to requests for comment Wednesday.

Shakked’s tweets come after many called him out for attempting to monetize the game. Shakked said he even went “private because I was getting harassed from every which direction.”

Some online urged users to forego downloading the app to avoid supporting it.

“Don’t download the Wordle app on iOS,” one Twitter user wrote.

Others simple blasted Shakked.

“This guy shamelessly cloned Wordle (name and all) as an F2P iOS game with in-app purchases and is bragging about how well it’s doing and how he’ll get away with it because Josh Wardle didn’t trademark it,” blogger and technologist Andy Baio tweeted. “So gross.”

Wilson Wong is a culture and trends reporter for NBC News Digital.

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