Heardle is the Wordle-like game for music lovers that Spotify just purchased. It's a great daily game addition to the ranks
Whether it’s desperation for something to do in order to cure boredom, or that humans like solving puzzles and games as part of their core being, there’s been an influx of daily puzzles of late which have captured a significant part of our cultural sphere. Effectively starting with Wordle, the number of different games revolving around having to guess a certain name or word have increased significantly in popularity. The one gaining traction now has been this new Heardle game which took the theme of the Wordle and added a music element to it.
And now the Heardle game has had some big news that sent some fans into a tizzy about what it could mean for the game and its future. Let’s explore this game, who purchased it, how it’s played, and if there are any other competitors out there.
WHAT IS THIS HEARDLE GAME?
Those who’ve played or heard of Wordle before will know the basics behind the Heardle game. To win on a given day you need to guess a song and its artist. Sounds easy, right? Well, not so much. That’s because Heardle is set up a little differently than some of the other games. Players are first played the first second of a song. At that point, they can make a guess about which song is the one in question. Having to get the artist or song spelled correctly isn’t all that big of a deal in the Heardle game. When a player does submit an answer there is an autofill that will pop up possibilities when you type in a few letters of the possible answer.
But one second usually isn’t enough to get a song on the first guess. That’s okay as well. There are some steps to be taken to increase the chance you get the answer. Heardle will allow you to skip your first guess to get another second of the song. And this process can repeat for a few rounds until you ultimately get the first 16 seconds of the song. By that time you might be out of guesses if something went wrong along the way.
Like Wordle, there is one Heardle game puzzle per day with the new song resetting at midnight. Heardle will keep user stars from the IP address each round is played on, and like its counterparts has a social sharing application so you can brag to others about your music awareness and knowledge.
WHO CREATED THIS HEARDLE GAME?
The Heardle game was originally created by the production studio Omaske. The game started around March of this year so hasn’t been on the scene all that long. Originally, there was some secrecy around who had even started it though it was known the application was from a London-based outfit. At first, the creator of the game says he was out of a job, bored, and playing Wordle a lot while posting his scores. Almost as a joke, he told Variety that he had an idea for a music-based game based on the original idea.
He ended up creating the actual app and loading the songs and format onto it for users to give a go. In a matter of a couple of weeks, the app was getting more than a million users per day, far exceeding even the best baseline expectations. He says he originally used SoundCloud as the place to integrate the musical component of each day’s puzzle.
And as it stood at the time, there was an openness to acquisition if the opportunity arose for the Heardle game he’d created. Remember, Wordle was also famously purchased so there would have seemed to be an appetite for that kind of thing with the new application.
SPOTIFY STEPS IN
As is often the case these days when something becomes popular and starts hitting a lot of users and engagement, the big money comes calling. It happened with Wordle when the New York Times purchased the web app from creator Josh Wardle. While it wasn’t officially reported at the time of the purchase, it’s believed that he was paid somewhere around $1 million dollars in the acquisition. Not bad for a little site that just had folks guess a word within six tries.
Well, the same has happened for the Heardle game, though it wasn’t the New York Times this time. On July 12, 2022, it was announced that Spotify had stepped in to acquire the game. The terms of the deal weren’t reported at the time though considering the popularity of the game and the size of Spotify we can probably assume that the deal is at least in the seven figures, though that is only speculation. The music and podcasting tech giant has promised to keep the Heardle game free for now, though based on the size of the company it likely wouldn’t make a ton of sense to try and monetize the game right now, or maybe ever.
That’s because Spotify’s core goal is to help onboard users to new music on the larger app. And this is the second release of this ilk recently for Spotify. They also brought Spotify Karaoke which allows users to perform songs through the app and have their performances rated. It makes total sense for their larger brand and platform to have these offerings for users.
According to Spotify, there are plans down the line to incorporate Heardle into the larger platform as part of the overall music experience there. In terms of helping users acquire new music to engage with, this also seems like a logical endpoint. Spotify owning the vertical on the music experience has been building for years now and this is just another move in that timeline.
Predictably, some Heardle users were non-plussed about the Spotify purchase because it didn’t seem to align with the overall gestalt of the original game. Though because the mechanics of the game aren’t going to change and it’s still free, it wouldn’t seem like this should be a long-term concern. And again, the creator of the game had signaled his original intent by creating Heardle. Getting paid for something that goes this big is totally reasonable, and frankly expected.