Spotify has snapped up Heardle, the Wordle-inspired music identification game that became popular earlier this year. Spotify says it will keep the web-based game “free to play for everyone”, although in the short term its availability will be restricted to the US, UK, Ireland, Canada, Australia and New Zealand.
The company said it already has plans to “integrate Heardle and other interactive experiences more fully into Spotify to allow music lovers to connect more deeply with artists and challenge friends”. Note the ‘other interactive experiences’ part of that sentence: it seems Spotify is following Netflix’s lead in exploring how games might fit within its service.
Heardle is simultaneously a new and old idea: it’s essentially the ‘Name That Tune’ game-show format (launched on US radio in 1952) or, in a more recent digital context, the original iPod’s ‘Music Quiz’ game – revived by Apple in 2020 as an iOS 14 feature. So, Heardle is fun but relatively easy for rival streaming services to copy or iterate if they really wanted to.
Spotify said in its announcement that it sees music discovery as a key benefit of Heardle, but the real significance of the deal is about the bigger picture of games and interactivity within its service in the future.