The Wordle clones have disappeared from the App Store

Earlier today, the App Store was overflowing with games ripping off a viral web app.
Illustration by William Joel / The Verge

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.)

The search results for Wordle at 5PM ET today, showing two clones.
The search results for Wordle at 8:08PM ET — the first results are now an app from five years ago, and a story about Words With Friends 2.

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.

Comments

I guess instead of "to the moon" ol’ boy is gonna have to go "to the drawing board"

Wow I laughed hard at this one.

Good that kid can eat shit

He could draw a moon on it.

And yet countless clones of 2048 were allowed to persist after Threes created the formula.

2048 copycat didn’t giddily brag about it "going to the fucking moon" on Twitter (and no 30$/Year IAP) So I think the internet is less angry.

Bragging and anger shouldn’t be the deciding factor here….

I do think there’s some question about why THIS instead of any number of other examples or what bylaw Apple cited when they don’t police this all that much BUT

This was a perfect storm. A wildly trendy game designed to to be free and incredibly respectful of your time, and some guy comes in and takes the EXACT design and name and charges a $30 yearly subscription. (And the name was "wordle – the app" so clearly designed to make people think it was official.)

Add on to that the INCREDIBLY obnoxious bragging on social media. This guy is a numbnutz of the highest order and was hoisted by his own petard.

People still think that Threes! is a copy of 2048. This makes me so mad…

I’m really glad Threes! made it into Apple Arcade.

I think I’m happy Apple stepped in except AFAIK, you can’t copyright games

https://www.americanbar.org/groups/intellectual_property_law/publications/landslide/2014-15/march-april/its_how_you_play_game_why_videogame_rules_are_not_expression_protected_copyright_law/

So sure, it’s Apple’s way or the highway and I don’t like seeing the game ripped off but I also don’t like seeing Apple play censor

You can still copyright product names. A game that’s similar to Wordle, but isn’t literally named after Josh Waddle’s game, might have got away with being "a similar game" rather than trying to con people into thinking it’s the real one.

The guy tried to pass it off as the official Wordle app, and copied the design off the web down to the exact logic and colouration. The web Wordle app is free for everyone to play, and he obviously doesn’t even want to make any money off of it (at this point, with all the server traffic, he’s probably losing a bit of money) and these people swoop in and deliberately try to trick people into thinking that it’s the real deal.

I’m actually more okay with the cheap clones that didn’t have an IAP. Nobody’s gonna confuse the games, and those people didn’t make any profit off of it.

I didn’t know about this game.

Wordle is a "lite" version of a game that precedes it – Wordament – which is far superior. It’s one of the only games I play.

https://apps.apple.com/us/app/microsoft-wordament/id580935508

Wordament was created by Microsoft Studios by a couple of guys who wrote it in their spare time, just for fun.

No. Wordle and Wordamant have quite different concepts.

Or if not that then https://www.qiktionary.com/

Wordle is not that original as a game. The power it has is the same word for everyone and how easy it is to share.

Wordament isn’t the same as Wordle. Wordle is more similar to hangman where you guess 5 letters at a time (as a real word) and get told which are right, and which are in the right spot.

Yeah, I made a bad assumption. It’s different.

I think that it’s similar to how a game like Tetris has so many copycats but they don’t get deleted. If you think of Tetris, you don’t think of the original game, you think of the way the game works. So maybe Wordle is like the OG Rubiks Cube and the copied versions are like the speedcubes with the same idea. I’m not saying that copying the game is ok, just a different perspective.

Yeah, but you don’t see people trying to copy the look and feel of the original pixel for pixel, and charging while the original is free.

Interesting that if there were alternative app stores / side loading allowed on iOS it would be impossible for apple to remove these scams.

Just saying…

Very true, but at the same time if it weren’t for recent pressure and awareness-raising from alternative app stores I don’t think Apple would have acted this fast, or perhaps removed these apps at all. So the world goes.

No, they would have. Apple has always been reactive to pressure like this.

Most every dev I know would disagree.

How many devs do you know who have wildly popular apps that were ripped-off in a virally public way where Apple then refused or failed to action?

MANY
FIVE
ZERO

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