Apple has purged several copycat versions of the word-guessing sensation Wordle from its App Store, after several developers attempted to monetise its popularity.
The website-only game was created by software engineer Josh Wardle, who originally made it for his word game-loving partner.
He released it to the public for free in October, and despite its viral success said he has no intention of making any money from it.
At least one developer approached him in an attempt to license the game for an app, but the offer was turned down. Zack Shakked went ahead and released his own version of the game on Apple’s App Store, charging a $29.99 for a premium account.
It received tens of thousands of downloads within days of its release, before the tech giant decided to remove it and others from its online store.
No official app version exists but knock-off versions continue to exist on the Google Play app store for Android devices, receiving widespread criticism.
“This guy shamelessly cloned Wordle (name and all) as an F2P [free-to-play] 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,” tweeted technologist and blogger Andy Baio. “So gross.”
The once-a-day free game involves guessing a five-letter word in six tries or less, with clues given based on previous guesses.
The puzzle’s creator said in an interview with The Guardian that he was overwhelmed by Wordle’s success.
“It going viral doesn’t feel great to be honest,” Mr Wardle said. “I feel a sense of responsibility for the players. I feel I really owe it to them to keep things running and make sure everything’s working correctly.
“I need to be really thoughtful. It’s not my full-time job and I don’t want it to become a source of stress and anxiety in my life.”