Wordle App Copies Viral Internet Game For A "Quick Buck"

You've seen those coloured tiles on Twitter and if you say you haven't, you're lying. Wordle is a completely free browser game that went viral overnight, but someone decided to copy the idea and name while hamfisting in a subscription service.

The story behind Wordle is sweet, heartwarming, and wholesome, but the story of developer Zach Shakked is anything but. While software engineer John Wardle made it for his wife who is a big fan of word games, Shakked was trying to cash in on a trend by stealing the idea.

He took the name Wordle, the idea, and its visuals, and he put his copy on the App Store, duping many who believed it to be the viral game they were seeing online. While the original is free and has a daily limit, Shakked's has a monthly subscription fee of $29.99. It lets you play more than once a day.

Shakked quickly caught fire as many jumped to flag his game on the App Store in defence of Wordle, poking fun at him in his replies with comments such as, "Steal is a five-letter word." He then privated his account while his copied version of Wordle was taken down. He then went on a further rant, upset about the backlash.

He claimed that Wordle is a rip-off of an '80s game show in an attempt to justify his copy, "Wordle is a ripoff of another game. Wordle the word isn't trademarked and there's a bunch of other unrelated word apps named the same thing. Wow, I'll hack together something on the weekend and see if I can make a quick buck."

He claimed the UI was "similar" because he only put it together over the weekend with his plan being to work on an update that overhauled its visuals. It seems like a defence, but it further cements that his version was a quick cash in on a viral trend before it died down.

Zach then justified the subscription fee by saying it's a standard in mobile games and that he does it in every app he makes. The thread continues with backhanded apologies and justifications before Zach finally said, "How do you feel about Apple unilaterally removing apps without any recourse? I spoke to lawyers and the original creator's claim to 'Wordle' was highly dubious."

Ironically, he tweeted in only June last year, "I absolutely despise copycats. Shameless copying is so dumb. Take inspiration from others. Why are they doing that? Why is this a good feature for users? How can we build on top of that?"

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