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Thanks To Hits Like Wordle, The New York Times Is Now A Gaming Company

Image: New York Times / SEC / Kotaku
Image: New York Times / SEC / Kotaku

The New York Times might be best known for its long-running newspaper. But new data shows that thanks to popular games like Wordle, Strands, Connections, and more, the Times has quietly become a video game company that just so happens to have a newspaper subscription, too.

Technically, the New York Times has been releasing “games” since 1942 when it began publishing its now-famous crossword. However, since 2014, the Times has invested heavily in growing its digital game business and services as newspaper subscriptions dwindle. In 2022, following the breakout success of the word-guessing game Worlde, NYT purchased the hit online game for an undisclosed seven-figure sum. It was added to the NYT’s games app, which now contains nearly a dozen puzzle games that update daily. And thanks to all these hit games, people are spending more time playing games than consuming anything else created by the Times.

As spotted by the Garbage Day newsletter, a chart created by investors included in a recent SEC report shows just how much more time people are spending playing games compared to reading the New York Times.

While the Times’ news app hasn’t seen much growth since January 2020—barring a few spikes during an election period or other major, global event—the Games app has become more and more popular over the last four years. Based on the chart included in that SEC report, it appears that the NYT’s games are far, far more popular with people than every other product, app, or piece of content the company now produces.

This might be surprising, but it lines up with the New York Times’ effort to grow its digital games business into something that can help support the rest of the media operation. Games have become one of the main profit earners for the Times and it boasts over 1 million subscribers.

As the online media landscape continues to be a nightmare filled with layoffs, shutdowns, sinking numbers, and fewer ad dollars, the NYT has found a solution: Become a games platform. And for now, it seems to be working.

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