Spotify is shutting down Heardle, the Wordle-like music guessing game it bought last year

Spotify is closing down Heardle, the Wordle-inspired music guessing game it acquired last July for an undisclosed sum. Similar to Wordle, Heardle offers players six tries to guess a popular song — but instead of typing in different letters to form words, players listen to a song’s intro to guess the artist and title. At the time of its acquisition, Spotify said Heardle would remain free to play for everyone. Now the company says it will sunset Heardle on May 5, as it aims to focus on its other objectives around music discovery.

The changes are being announced through an in-app message on the Heardle website.

Image Credits: Heardle

The decision to close Heardle, we understand, came about because Spotify wants to devote more of its energy toward music discovery through its recent app changes, not through Wordle-inspired gameplay off-platform.

Last month, Spotify rolled out a significant redesign of its mobile app experience that introduced new TikTok-style discovery feeds for music and podcasts along with other features, like Smart Shuffle for playlist recommendations and a new podcast autoplay option, among other things. It also rolled out an “AI DJ” that figures out what sort of music users like, then plays those tracks for you. The feature also gets smarter over time the more you engage with it.

In light of these updates, Heardle was no longer a major part of Spotify’s overall music discovery efforts. In addition, like many tech companies that have undergone belt-tightening measures like layoffs in recent months, there’s less of a financial incentive to dabble with side projects — including the likes of a fun music game, for instance.

Heardle, however, had still been fairly popular at the time of its acquisition. According to data from web analytics firm Similarweb, the game peaked at 69 million monthly desktop and mobile web visits in March 2022. Just ahead of the Spotify deal, those visits had dropped to 41 million. The firm says visits continued to decline, which likely made Heardle’s ongoing maintenance no longer a solid bet for Spotify.

Plus, with much of the Wordle craze also trending down after The New York Times bought the flagship word game in January of last year, Heardle’s own future prospects may have been dimming, too. We understand Heardle had maintained some of its loyal users after the deal closed, but Spotify wouldn’t comment on overall usage or repeat engagement with any specific metrics. However, it was only after Spotify learned how Heardle players were engaging with the game that the decision was made to focus the company’s investments elsewhere.

In the game, after users guessed the song, they could click a button to listen to the full track on Spotify. It’s possible that not enough users did so, instead just exiting the game to play again later.

In other words, Heardle didn’t ultimately help Spotify achieve its goals around improved music discovery. And with the redesign, much of what Heardle had to offer was now duplicating the company’s other music discovery features — and doing so outside of the Spotify app.

Still, for those who loved playing Heardle, today’s announcement regarding the game’s imminent closure will not likely be welcome news. Except, perhaps, by those Forbes contributors who had to write up the daily answers and clues and by the numerous sites running Heardle clones.

Spotify confirmed the game’s closure with a statement.

“After careful consideration, we have made the difficult decision to say goodbye to Heardle as we focus our efforts on other features for music discovery,” a company spokesperson told TechCrunch.

The website will display a banner to users alerting them to the shutdown coming May 5.

We understand there was no team dedicated to working on Heardle so there’s no impact in terms of either employee cuts or reorganization.

While Spotify is moving away from Heardle, it’s not necessarily giving up on other sorts of interactive experiences, we’re told. The company today offers its interactive AI DJ feature and other things like polls and Q&As, which lets podcast listeners engage with their favorite creators. It also will continue to invest in other gaming projects, like its Spotify island on Roblox, its in-app Gaming hub and other integrations with Xbox and PlayStation.

Earlier this month, Spotify also shut down another side project with the closure of Spotify Live, its livestreaming app and Clubhouse rival.