Over the holidays, free browser-based word puzzle game Wordle took the world by storm. Developer Josh Wardle's viral sensation has enjoyed overnight success thanks in part to a clever social media sharing gimmick that uses emojis to show players' "scores."
But with great success comes great copycats, and this week, a number of cash-grabbing developers began furiously launching their own versions of Wordle on the iOS App Store. One went so far as to brag about it on Twitter, which kind of feels like walking into an art gallery and bragging about stealing a painting.
Before the cloned Wordle apps could explode in popularity, it appears Apple has intervened. Polygon has noticed that most of them are now removed from the App Store. It does appear that Google hasn't made the same move yet.
Though these games were blatant copycats, it wasn't clear what kind of recourse Wardle would have in protecting his original game idea. The App Store has infamously been home to major copycat games over the years, many of them at least having the decency to tweak the core mechanics or choose different names (2048 managed to escape Apple's ire despite a close similarity to Asher Vollmer's Threes, for instance).
While it's great for Wardle that the Wordle clones were eliminated, Apple hasn't made any official statement or offered explanation for the deletion. It's not clear if there was an actual App Store rule that was violated, or if Apple arbitrarily removed them for the obvious cloning at play.
It's a removal that touches on Tim Seeney's arguments about Apple's closed garden that drove the Epic v. Apple lawsuit of last year.