Shaker Student’s Viral Game Takes Internet by Storm

Weddle, an NFL themed Wordle spin, generates thousands of users

On March 21, the NFL player guessing game Weddle hit the internet. Co-founded by two Shaker sophomores, Sam Hren and Joe Brancato, the game gained popularity after going viral on TikTok and is played by people all over the United States. 

Weddle is based on the popular web-based word game Wordle, which is owned by The New York Times Company. After Wordle became successful, spin offs of the game were released by various creators. Some of these include harder versions of the original, such as Quordle which contains four new words at once, whereas others are themed versions of Wordle, such as Taylordle based on Taylor Swift.

When there wasn’t a popular football themed version, Brancato was struck with an idea. “Joe is a big NFL fan and has enjoyed a lot of other Wordle variants and he wanted to create one for the NFL, so he came to me,” Hren said. 

The game is named after Eric Weddle, a safety on the 2022 Super Bowl winning Los Angeles Rams. He came out of retirement to play in the Super Bowl, playing a role in the win. Weddle’s influence inspired Hren and Brancato. “We are big fans of everything Eric Weddle has done recently,” Hren said.  Weddle players use NFL team, division, position, height, age and jersey number to guess their player’s names. With eight guesses available, some players were clamoring for an even harder mode. 

Due to the requests, the creators developed hard mode. “After completing the daily Weddle, you will have the option to try Hard Mode. Hard Mode includes all positions on both sides of the ball, as well as kickers and punters,” the Weddle twitter account stated. The regular mode only includes the offensive positions quarterback, running back, tight ends and wide receivers. 

Hren and Brancato share responsibilities for the game. “I am the developer for the site and have created what you see today on our website. Joe is in charge of marketing, he runs our TikTok and our Twitter,” Hren said. 

Though social media may not seem essential compared to developing the game, Hren thinks their TikTok and Twitter accounts are very important. “TikTok is the reason we are where we are today, and the initial traction was all because of social media,” he said. 

Joe’s mother, Katie Brancato, is very proud of them and their hard work. “I also am impressed by their collaboration, work ethic and creativity in developing and launching Weddle,” Katie Brancato stated. 

National news organizations have published stories about Weddle, bringing greater attention to the game. From websites such as ESPN and Sports Illustrated, these articles helped improve the game’s popularity. 

The articles also meant a lot personally to the creators. “When the first article was made by a small news organization, Focus News, we were freaking out. It’s when we realized we were actually going somewhere,” Hren said. 

New experiences like creating and running Weddle provide Joe Brancato and Hren with new perspectives. “They are learning about both the technical and business sides of launching an online game, and these are skills that will serve them well later in life too. They also are learning how to be good business partners, and they both respect each other’s strengths,” Katie Brancato stated. 

Sophomore Niko Deneris, a Weddle user, likes that Weddle brings together two of his hobbies. “The game is so interesting because I love football and I like Wordle. It’s a great hybrid,” Deneris said.

The game provides an option for many NFL fans and took Wordle’s popularity in stride to create a successful game. With posts on Twitter from football fans throughout the country showing their scores, Weddle has brought football fans together.

At their young age, the creators are building perspectives for life. Hren said, “Weddle has been such a great experience for me and Joe, and has taught us a lot about creating your own company.”

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