The developer of an app called Wordle, which was released five years ago, has donated his profits to charity after hundreds of thousands of people mistakenly downloaded it in an attempt to play the popular new browser game that is also called Wordle.
Steven Cravotta created the mobile game Wordle when he was 18 years old, but it recently saw a surge across app stores due to the popularity of the Wordle browser game.
“I built an app called Wordle when I was 18 mostly for fun, to sharpen my coding skillz, and maybe make a quick buck,” he said via Twitter. “It didn’t quite take off like my previous app, Grid, did. So, after a few months and [around] 100k total downloads, I stopped updating and promoting the app.”
Here’s how a mobile game I built 5 years ago suddenly got blown up by The New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and Jimmy Fallon.
— Steven (@StevenCravotta) January 12, 2022
“It’s user growth slowly declined to 1-2 downloads a day for the past 4 years,” he explained. “Until 1 week ago when I logged into my dashboard and was SHOOK at what I saw.”
Of course, the browser game Wordle has become a global sensation after it was featured in The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal. It is even being played by celebrities such as Jimmy Fallon.
— jimmy fallon (@jimmyfallon) January 4, 2022
Although the game is free to play in any online browser, Wordle’s popularity has led to a surge in searches for the game in mobile app stores. And that’s where the five-year-old Wordle app comes in.
“I figured someone ran a bot script and artificially sent downloads to the wrong app or something,” he explained. “But after a quick google search, I realized I was very wrong. As it turns out the very talented developer [Josh Wardle] created an amazing in-browser game called Wordle.”
Cravotta says that the instant popularity of the new Wordle game caused a bit of confusion, largely because some publications failed to make it clear that the new game was available in online browsers.
“Naturally people went to the AppStore to search Wordle,” he explained. “Low and behold, those people came across my app, also conveniently named Wordle. My Wordle app has gotten 200,000 downloads in the past 7 days and it’s not even slowing down yet.”
Although Cravotta could have pocked the cash himself, he instead reached out to new Wordle creator Josh Wardle, and together, they chose to donate the unexpected proceeds to charity.
“I figured we could turn this very strange, once in a lifetime scenario and make it something amazing!” he said.
Ultimately, they decided to donate the app proceeds to Boost! West Oakland, a charity that provides free after-school tutoring to children in Oakland, California.
Considering Wordle’s literacy-based gameplay, it’s a fitting charity to benefit from the unexpected boost in sales. And while other apps seek to profit from Worldle’s popularity by creating clone apps, it’s nice to see some good come from this mix-up.
Ryan Leston is an entertainment journalist and film critic for IGN. You can follow him on Twitter.