In January, The New York Times bought Wordle, the beloved word guessing game. Many people are convinced that the five-letter words meant to be guessed are harder since the game got acquired.

A new study even found that Google searches for “today’s wordle” rose 196% when the low seven-figure acquisition took place.

  • The research, conducted by Wordfinderx, a website that helps word game enthusiasts, also revealed that Wordle cheaters usually looked up the word between 7 a.m to 8 a.m., suggesting that most people play the game in the mornings.
  • The hardest words that stumped players were “swill” and “aroma.” Others included “caulk,” “tacit” and “dodge.”
  • New Hampshire has the most number of people cheating, followed by Rhode Island, Vermont, Washington, D.C., and Massachusetts.
New York Times acquires Wordle, and the game’s days of free play could be numbered

Researchers analyzed Google Trends data over the past three months to see how often players looked up Wordle answers online.

Has Wordle actually gotten harder?

The internet has been debating whether Wordle got harder post-acquisition.

  • “It must be a coincidence, but the NY Times puzzles are hard and suddenly Wordle has questionable words,” tweeted Anna Spargo-Ryan, an author and columnist.
  • “Can we all just agree that wordle isn’t the same since NY times took over …,” tweeted Tayshia Adams, host of “The Bachelorette.”
Is there more strategy to Wordle than you think? What’s the best word to start with?

The New York Times has said it has not made the game harder.

  • “Since acquiring Wordle, The Times has not made the puzzle harder,” said communications director Jordan Cohen, per Mashable. He added that “in an effort to make the puzzle more accessible,” the word “agora” was removed last week.

Tiger Webb, a language specialist who works as an editorial adviser and researcher at the Australian Broadcasting Corporation, explains the reason behind why people think the game’s complexity has changed, per The Guardian.

  • “Two things could be going on,” he said. People are seeing “a pattern where there may not be any and maybe in the backend something could be different with the sale to The New York Times … but we don’t know.”
  • Either way, he said that there are plenty of five-letter words in English that aren’t so commonly used.