Apple has quietly removed a number of games from its App Store that blatantly copy Josh Wardle’s “Wordle” daily puzzle game sensation.
The company didn’t make any public statement about the move, but The Verge notes that games that clearly listed themselves as “Wordle” with the same rules have been delisted. While some “clones” still remain, they don’t use the name “Wordle.”
This guy shamelessly cloned Wordle (name and all) as an F2P iOS game with in-app purchases and is bragging about how well it’s doing and how he’ll get away with it because Josh Wardle didn’t trademark it. So gross. pic.twitter.com/kIs8BypuRA
— Andy Baio (@waxpancake) January 11, 2022
But it was the copycat app made by developer Zach Shakked, which was released on January 10th, that garnered the most attention. His version took Wardle’s game — free-to-play, unmonetized and featuring five-letter puzzles — and added six- and seven-letter word options, as well as an unlimited play mode for $30 USD/year (about $37.50 CAD).
Shakked spent the days since launch bragging about well “his” game was doing and how all he wanted to do was “make tons of fucking money.” People were quick to point out how shameless he was, as well as hypocritical, given a previously deleted tweet that his own app was copied. That Wardle originally only made the game for his partner to play, and then opened it up to everyone for free without a desire to monetize it, just made Shakked’s brazenness stand out all the more.
Eventually, Shakked did issue what would seem to be his attempt at an apology in a Twitter thread:
Here were my calculations:
a) Wordle is a ripoff of another game
b) Wordle the word isn’t trademarked and there’s a bunch of other unrelated word apps named the same thing
c) Wow, I’ll hack together something on the weekend and see if I can make a buck
— Zach (@zachshakked) January 12, 2022
After a few tweets defending himself, he said “I realize I crossed a line. And I surely, surely will never do anything remotely close to this again. I fucked up.” However, he notably never actually apologized to Wardle himself.
Further, Shakked’s more recent tweets have either shifted the blame to Wardle or boasted about other ways he can get rich quickly, without any need for actual talent or originality. He also complained that “Apple is unilaterally removing apps without any recourse,” and that lawyers apparently said “[Wardle’s] claim to ‘Wordle’ was highly dubious.”
While the point about lawyers is harder to verify, Shakked is outright wrong about the app removal. As Apple’s App Store own guidelines explicitly state, “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.” Clearly, Shakked did not comply with that.
It’s important to note, though, that it doesn’t seem that Wardle would have any legal recourse. As Shakked notes, the name isn’t trademarked, and Wordle itself does draw inspiration from many other games. That said, that doesn’t exonerate Shakked from the court of public opinion, and it’s clear that many people have (rightfully) condemned him.
Via: The Verge