The New York Times has announced that the paper will stop supporting .puz format, meaning that Crossword has not be available on third-party applications after August 10.
In a press release, The New York Times revealed that the editorial team will terminate the .puz format for technical improvement. “Starting Aug. 10, we will no longer support crossword play on Across Lite in order to focus on editing more puzzles and improving our internal tools and processes,” it wrote. “This means we won’t provide downloadable .puz files for use on that platform for future or archive puzzles.”
This appears to be a subtle change, as crossword fans still have access to the game on NYT Crossword App or the official website, but the .puz format has been around for over 20 years. Crossword solvers have grown used to the convenience and consistency of this platform. So the change means many will need to break longstanding habits. NYT‘s editorial team faced a downpour of criticism for this decision.
Dan Feyer, the award-winning crossword solver, has a detailed take condemning this decision on Twitter, referring to it as “maddening.”
This is maddening. This change benefits NONE of the millions of online #NYTXW solvers who pay an annual subscription for access to the crosswords (… sorry, "Games"). It is a pure cash grab, removing the convenience that has been part of digital crosswords since the mid-'90s. https://t.co/79o2LOhnLG
— Dan Feyer (@danfeyer) August 3, 2021
“This change benefits NONE of the millions of online #NYTXW solvers who pay an annual subscription for access to the crosswords (… sorry, “Games”),” he wrote. “It is a pure cash grab, removing the convenience that has been part of digital crosswords since the mid-’90s.”
In response to the accusation of a “cash grab,” Editorial Director Everdeen Mason posted the following:
Hi. I’m the one who made this call and I did it for editorial reasons. I’m trying to build something where the editors can actual edit and make games rather than adapt things for tools we can’t control. It takes a lot of time, and I’m confident this is the best move for my team https://t.co/69xZHIFElF
— EverQueen Mason (@EverdeenMason) August 3, 2021
“I’m trying to build something where the editors can actually edit and make games rather than adapt things for tools we can’t control. It takes a lot of time, and I’m confident this is the best move for my team,” Mason said on Twitter. “My team is small and extremely good at what they do, and part of my job is to overhaul things so their lives are easier. We also need to adapt to future technologies and build a foundation we can make more things on.”
Though the technical transition is currently opposed by many users, Mason appears to be rather confident. Even though some players attempted to remind Mason of the format’s long history, she argued that “saying something has existed for 25 years holds no sway over me. I was hired to bring change and this was a small one lol” (yes she wrote that lol).
So far, the paper has not said anything about revisiting the decision. Considering the tone of the editorial director, the hope for a reversal also seems dim.