Has Apple taken action against apps that cloned the popular web game Wordle? According to Bloomberg, yes — many of them have been removed from the App Store, after several publications (including The Verge) called out a flood of copycats so blatant as to be named “Wordle” and that featured the same gameplay and UI, each taking advantage of the fact that developer Josh Wardle didn’t create an Apple app of his own. While we’re still seeing a few clones on the App Store, they don’t use the Wordle name.
The clone apps had a spotlight shone on them on Tuesday, when one developer started bragging about how many downloads his version of Wordle was getting. Following some intense backlash from the community, he set his account to private, but people had already started finding many other apps like it on the App Store. (He later made his account public again to issue a response about his app being pulled.)
Apple didn’t immediately respond to The Verge’s request for confirmation that it was the one that took action against the Wordle-alikes, but it seems like Bloomberg was able to get confirmation that it did. By initiating a crackdown on the apps, the company has tipped the scales significantly to protect the original game.
While there have been similar high-profile situations in the past — as Protocol points out, Flappy Bird and Threes vs 2048 come to mind — it’s hard to think of a recent example where Apple stepped in as heavily as it seems to have done today. Apple does have language about copycats in its developer guidelines, but it’s notably vague: “Come up with your own ideas,” section 4.1 reads. “Don’t simply copy the latest popular app on the App Store, or make some minor changes to another app’s name or UI and pass it off as your own.”
There have been questions about how Apple would deal with blatant clones, as it’s seemingly let things slide in some instances. With disappearance of the Wordle-alikes from the App Store, we may have gotten a precedent for how similar is too similar.
Update January 12th, 9:15PM ET: Added confirmation from Bloomberg that Apple removed the cloned apps, and information about one developer’s response to his app being pulled.