Wordle clones get a swift taste of the App Store’s ban hammer


Wordle game
Think again before building a Wordle clone for iPhone and iPad.
Screenshot: Cult of Mac

Apple swiftly reacted to shameful clones of popular online game Wordle by booting them from the App Store.

Josh Wardle’s original version of the word game, available to play for free in a web browser, went viral in recent weeks. Some developers saw an opportunity to capitalize on that by charging for knockoff versions on iPhone and iPad.

Many of the clones, which quickly rose to the top of the App Store’s charts, used exactly the same name as Wardle’s game — and charged players as much as $30 per year in subscription fees. But they didn’t last long.

Apple gives Wordle clones the boot

Wordle is a simple game in which players attempt to identify a five-letter word through a series of guesses. You get only six attempts, and there’s just one puzzle for players to enjoy each day, which keeps you coming back.

The game keeps track of your wins and lets you share your play stats with others, providing a competitive element. The best bit? It’s completely free to play and there are no ads, with Wardle determined not to monetize the game.

Sadly, other developers have attempted to profit off Wordle. A bunch of them took the game, which is only available in a browser, and cloned it for iPhone and iPad — then added ads and subscriptions to make money.

One developer, Zach Shakked, who released Wordle — The App, was charging players a subscription fee of $30 a year. He bragged on Twitter about how his game was quickly climbing the App Store download charts.

But, in a somewhat rare move from Apple, the clones have been kicked out.

But why Wordle?

Despite turning a blind eye to other scams, Apple acted quickly to remove Wordle clones from the App Store. Although some remain, the majority are gone. Apple has left those that were available before the Wordle website.

It’s unclear why Apple took such a strict approach in this case, when the company ignored other blatant clones in the past. It’s not the first time a bunch of devs tried to capitalize on a popular trend. Who remembers Flappy Bird?

What makes the move even more interesting is that Wardle didn’t actually invent the concept of Wordle. Similar word games have been around for years, and it seems Wardle had no protection over the idea or its name.

Apple may have taken issue with the fact that, in many cases, the Wordle clones use the same name and a very similar design. But again, it’s not the first time that’s happened and apparently gone unnoticed by App Store reviewers.


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