Developed by The Fast Mind, Wordie is a mobile game where players are challenged to guess the common theme from four pictures, then spell out the word using available letters. It was also one of the original apps for iMessage when it first launched with iOS 10. It has since received tremendous success, with over 20 million downloads to date with over 3.5 million active users per month, indicating 99 percent organic growth.

Wordie was recently updated to support animated images from GIPHY so that its players can create custom puzzles to challenge each other with. Groups of up to 40 people can participate in challenges using iMessage, and the game syncs across multiple devices such as iPhone, iPad and Apple Watch. About 25 percent of players in the US engage with the game using iMessage.

The Fast Mind co-founder and CEO, Jorge Prado, spoke with [a]listdaily about finding success on a messaging platform and how it got players around the world wild for Wordie.

Jorge Prado, The Fast Mind founder and CEO
Jorge Prado, The Fast Mind founder and CEO

In what ways have you seen iMessage gaming grow since you first launched Wordie?

With iOS 10, iMessage became a powerful platform in our game. We’ve seen Wordie played on iMessage more than we ever imagined. Over 20 percent of all levels are won through iMessage, and we strongly believe there is still plenty of room to grow and innovate. iMessage has transformed the way people play Wordie from only a solo mode with some help from their friends to a truly collaborative and cooperative mode. Before iMessage, you could still share your score, challenge someone, or ask for help through different messaging platforms, but there was no real gameplay happening in the conversation. Now, there are groups with over 40 users who play the game in the same iMessage chat. The average group is over 4 players and growing every day.

Wordie recently announced 20 million installs. How were you able to get the word out—so to speak—about Wordie?

Nice pun! Wordie’s growth is all about our users and the communities they have created. The viral infrastructure that is embedded into the gameplay allows our players to challenge their friends through any social media channel or messaging platform looking for help or just for fun. That function has made Wordie one of the most viral word games ever. Wordie has reached over 60 percent of smartphone users in some countries. At The Fastmind, we’re proud of what our users have done with the game to spread their voice all over. A number that never fails to impress us is that 50 percent of all our engaged users have shared or will share a level during their lifetime in the game.

Wordie is also available as a standalone mobile app, but we hear that most users prefer to play through iMessage. Why do you think that is?

It’s not that most of the users play in iMessage, it’s that the users that discover the experience on the iMessage extension will play with their friends in the new platform, rather than play only by themselves. We think it’s because it feels very natural and follows into the serendipity of any conversation. It’s just there for you to use it, it’s easy and fun. Mobile gaming is about having fun during brief windows of time, and I think it’s genius to take the gaming experience to where people are sending billions of messages every day. Now you don’t have to open an app to start a playing experience but can combine the social feeling with the fun of the game experience. That is the power of playing with someone or a group of friends, in real time, in the middle of a conversation. On the other hand, the standalone app often serves as player’s training mode to be ready to answer the challenges of their friends.

What are the benefits to an iMessage game compared to a standalone app?

We have seen two main advantages so far. One main advantage is that iMessage offers a social gaming experience you build from day one without having to create a new community because you have your friends already connected to you through your phone. The other key benefit is the fact that you do not have to push the user to make them play with a notification. Instead, those invites, nudges or reminders are coming directly from players’ friends, which makes them much less annoying.

Can Wordie work on other messaging apps such as Facebook Chat? Has there been any consideration to adopting more platforms?

We’re looking forward to bringing Wordie to every messaging and social platform where people can have fun with their friends. You can expect that very soon.

wordie-2How can users use GIPHY to make their own puzzles, and how have you seen the feature increase engagement?

Nowadays everything is about being in the moment, and with Wordie you can create a puzzle about ongoing events and share it with your friends instantaneously.

The GIF factory is a very intuitive interface where you can search among the GIPHY database for the four GIFs that best suit the word you want to send as a challenge. It’s common to come up with even better words than you thought of when you start browsing the GIFs. We’ve been receiving a lot of fun and creative GIF levels from our community. Messages platforms are for users to create content as well as consume. Wordie allows our users to create their own levels and play other users or community levels.

There appears to be a growing shift toward messaging apps for gaming. Why do you think it’s such an attractive platform?

To sum up a little of what I said before, I think there are three main reasons why messaging apps are such an attractive platform. First we have the established communities of users that they offer. You don’t have to create a community or a user base, the platform automatically allows you to share your progress with friends, coworkers, family and other groups. As a game developer, you enter into a preexisting community that helps with the distribution of your product. Second is the communication channels that are available. Normally, it is the developer who is in charge of sending push notifications and maintaining the communication with the user. Now, it has pivoted to the point where it is the user himself who makes those notifications and encourages other people to play the game. And let’s face it, you are more likely to pay attention to a message sent by a friend than by an app.

Finally, these messaging platforms are made to create and consume content. If you develop your app properly, you will be able to immediately generate content and give it to the users so they can enjoy it. Wordie incorporates all of these characteristics (user communities, communications and the creation of content), which is what makes it such a viral app. Using a platform that is still in early stages of development and that has a lot of potential, we are proud to be one of the first games to embrace this opportunity. It’s about being there in the moment and having the capabilities to engage in a fun experience. We want to make the best word game in the world. That’s a beautiful thing, mobile gaming bringing people together to have fun. We believe in the power of fun to create a better world!