Josh Wardle, a software engineer in Brooklyn, knew his partner loved word games, so he created a guessing game for just the two of them. As a play on his last name, he named it Wordle.
But after the couple played for months, and after it rapidly became an obsession in his family’s WhatsApp group once he introduced it to relatives, Mr. Wardle thought he might be on to something and released it to the rest of the world in October.
On Nov. 1, 90 people played.
On Sunday, just over two months later, more than 300,000 people played.
It’s been a meteoric rise for the once-a-day game, which invites players to guess a five-letter word in a similar manner as the guess-the-color game Mastermind. After guessing a five-letter word, the game tells you whether any of your letters are in the secret word and whether they are in the correct place. You have six tries to get it right.
Few such popular corners of the internet are as low-frills as the website, which Mr. Wardle built himself as a side project. There are no ads or flashing banners; no windows pop up or ask for money. There is merely the game on a black background.