In my time with AARP, it was well known that the Games section was by far the site's biggest page view driver by a wide margin. Thousands, if not millions of users, had bookmarked their favorite free games, whether it be Solitaire, Mahjong, Soduku etc. Of course, these users also spent much more time on the site, compared to a user who would read an article or two and then move on to something else.
So I wasn't totally surprised to see that the Washington Post is getting into the same 'game' at least online, offering many of the same games in addition to their own crossword etc. One thing to note, these games are all Flash-based, so most will not work on mobile. In the comments on the blog post above, one user notes that their employer is blocking Flash-based sites.
News sites have often tried to create original games, such as Marketplace's Budget Hero, with varying levels of success. I'm sure the New York Times Crosswords section is a huge driver of repeat traffic. In fact, it appears to be a decent revenue driver and it's own iPhone app. There's a documentary called 'Wordplay' that is almost an infomercial for the hallowed NYT crossword.
Features like weather, games, and to a certain extent, comics and photo galleries, are not always sexy, but they are often crucial to building repeat visitors.
HT: Potomac TechWire