Since The New York Times bought Wordle in late January, some players have become convinced the viral word game has become more difficult than ever before. While that claim remains unproven, a new study shows that cheating while playing Wordle has become more prevalent since the Times’ takeover.
According to the study, which looked at data through Feb. 20, Google searches for “today’s Wordle” increased by 196% since The New York Times bought the free game.
Search interest for the day’s Wordle had the largest one week increase from Feb. 6 to 13, when interest jumped from nearly 70 on Google’s popularity scale to 100.
The New York Times bought Wordle on Jan. 31, and the Wordle domain officially redirected to a Times website on Feb. 10.
The two most difficult words — and most popular days for cheating — for players appear to be Feb. 15’s “AROMA,” and Feb. 19’s “SWILL.”
Not only did the study analyze the searches over the past three months, but they were able to pinpoint which state these “cheaters” live from.
The “biggest cheaters,” according to WordFinderX, can be found in the northeast.
New Hampshire, Rhode Island and Vermont, as well as Washington D.C., Massachusetts and Maine all had the highest number of “todays Wordle” searches in that time period.
When McClatchy News ran its own search of Google Trends data, we found the least likely offenders were from Alaska, followed by Mississippi, New Mexico and Kentucky.
These cheaters also commonly play in the morning. The study says the searches were most often done between 7 and 8 a.m.
The graph provided by the study does indicate that cheating has become more prevalent since the New York Times takeover, but it also may be due to the game’s rising popularity — since more people playing means more opportunities to cheat. Regardless, it does appear that cheating at the simple word game has increased, especially since the start of February.