Global news giants strategically leverage puzzle games, amass over 800 million online visits

By Zion Rufus 

The surge in online puzzle game visits, particularly on news sites during the pandemic era, signals a remarkable cultural shift in entertainment.

Traditional favorites like Crossword and Sudoku have also seamlessly transitioned to the digital landscape, constituting a vital component of many media strategies.

In November 2023, the top 10 global news websites collectively garnered over 800 million visits solely for their puzzle game sections. This staggering figure constitutes 25% of their combined 3.2 billion monthly visits, reflecting a global fascination with digital puzzles that provide a unique blend of leisure and mental stimulation.

Puzzle games have now evolved beyond mere pastimes, transforming into a battleground for traffic, with news giants leveraging them to attract substantial visitor numbers.
The New York Times stands out, holding a near-monopoly on game traffic at 97.5% among these top sites.

In November 2023 alone, they received 1.4 billion total online visits, of which 783.5 million were game visits, comprising approximately 55.96% of the total. This highlights the transformation of these games into more than entertainment, as they now serve as daily rituals and tools for social bonding in a digital-first world.

Leading the charge in this puzzle game revolution are Wordle, Connections, and Crossword, boasting impressive visit numbers of 423.7 million, 152.7 million, and 117.8 million, respectively. Not only do these figures highlight their popularity, but they also mark a massive cultural shift in how we engage with digital entertainment.

Wordle’s exceptional success, amplified by The New York Times’ acquisition in January 2022, serves as a prime example of this cultural shift. The acquisition from creator Josh Wardle, a Brooklyn-based software engineer, for a sum in the low seven figures, speaks volumes about the game’s influence and a broader shift in the gaming landscape.

A comprehensive analysis conducted by Crosswordanswers911, utilizing tools like SEMRUSH and Ahrefs, reveals intriguing insights into the puzzle game landscape. The top 10 news sites, ranked by total puzzle game visits in November 2023, provide a glimpse into the integration of games into their digital strategies.

The New York Times dominated the puzzle game scene with an impressive 783.5 million visits, constituting 55.79% of its total 1.4 billion traffic. This highlights a highly successful integration of games into its digital strategy, emphasizing their role in captivating and retaining a massive online audience.

Other notable players in the puzzle game landscape include The Washington Post, USA Today, The Guardian, The Telegraph, Los Angeles Times, The New Yorker, The Atlantic, The Wall Street Journal, and The Globe and Mail, each with varying degrees of engagement in games.

The most popular word and puzzle games across these top 10 news sites provide further insight into audience preferences.

Wordle leads the pack with a colossal 423.7 million visits, primarily on The New York Times, emphasizing its dominant status. Connections and Crossword follow suit, reinforcing The New York Times’ ability to engage audiences with inventive wordplay.

The landscape of digital puzzle games is also diverse, with each news site showcasing its unique mix of games.

From exclusive attention to particular games, such as Spelling Bee and Letterbox on The New York Times, to a variety of games offered by The Telegraph, the puzzle game experience varies across platforms.

This massive cultural shift in puzzle games reflects a change in entertainment preferences and a digital evolution in how people engage with content online. The integration of these games into news websites has not only attracted a broader audience but has also created a new digital pastime, fostering connections and rituals in a world increasingly defined by its digital interactions.


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