The New York Times takes its crossword puzzle from the pages to the small screen with a new game on Instagram. The virtual experience will be the first AR gaming campaign launched by The New York Times in a bid to reach younger, tech savvy consumers.
“Shattered Crosswords” allows Instagram users to play The New York Times signature crossword puzzles on their smartphone. The game was developed for Instagram using Facebook’s recently launched Spark AR platform. This marks Spark’s second high-profile campaign, after Facebook teamed up with The Smithsonian and Palace of Versailles to create AR travel filters. By once again using its augmented reality capabilities to bring a renowned entertainment feature to mobile users, Facebook can add life to its image and keep it standing out in a saturated tech market, according to a Gartner report.
For The New York Times’ game, Instagram users will find spinning, broken crossword puzzle pieces which, when tapped, reveal a clue. The clues are then used to find hidden words, and when enough are found, can complete the puzzle. The whole experience uses augmented reality and could help the publisher drive users to its Instagram page. The ease and accessibility of enabling and playing the crossword puzzle could also spur usage and boost digital engagement rates for the traditionally hard copy company. Additionally, The New York Times will update the puzzle on a regular basis to keep loyal users engaged and frequently returning to its Instagram feature.
Though Shattered Crosswords marks The New York Times’ first AR gaming engagement, the feature follows years of virtual partnerships with Facebook. This year, the publisher and social media behemoth signed a multi-year deal that will see Spark create visual stories for AR-driven reporting across Facebook’s platforms. The two companies have already co-launched current event features including visuals covering the anniversary of Women’s Suffrage, the California wildfires, and the science behind wearing face masks during the pandemic. With its latest, lighthearted launch, The New York Times could engage more easy-going consumers, rather than those looking for hard-hitting news, while also expanding its digital reach.
With Facebook, The New York Times can play a new game that appeals to both loyal crossword enthusiasts and casual social media scrollers, alike. The collaboration also gives readers a peek at the future of traditional publisher advertising, as more consumers spend their pastimes on their smartphones.