The newest game from Nintendo, “The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild,” is one of the best games released in years. Not one of the best Nintendo games in years, but one of the best games — period — released in the last decade.
It’s so good, in fact, that you might consider buying Nintendo’s new, $US300 console — the Nintendo Switch — solely for “Breath of the Wild.” That would be a perfectly reasonable thing to do, despite it being a very expensive thing to do.
Since it’s such a tremendously good game, it’s doing very well in terms of sales. The game is actually outselling the new game console it’s on — 2.76 million copies of “Breath of the Wild” were sold so far on the Switch, while 2.74 million Switch consoles were sold.
That shouldn’t surprise you — great new entries in major franchises tend to sell well, and to even help sell the hardware they’re made to be played on. But it was a surprise, apparently, to the president of Nintendo.
“It is surprising that ‘Zelda’ is doing so well,” Nintendo president Tatsumi Kimishima said during an investor call on Thursday, as translated/reported by the Wall Street Journal.
His reaction is somewhat… surprising given his position at Nintendo. He’s the guy who would be aware that “Breath of the Wild” is a tremendous achievement long before it launched in March. He’s in a position to be overconfident in the new “Zelda” — not surprised by its success.
If anything, his reaction speaks to the difference between Kimishima and his predecessor, Satoru Iwata. While Kimishima comes from a corporate background, Iwata came from game development. Where Kimishima focuses on numbers and strategy, Iwata tended to focus on making great games first and foremost.
Former Nintendo president Satoru Iwata died in July 2015; Kimishima became Nintendo’s new president in September 2015.
That said, Kimishima is seemingly carrying forward Iwata’s overarching mission statement.
“A good game title will spur sales of the platform device,” Kimishima said after speaking to his surprise at the sales of “Breath of the Wild.”
That’s largely been Nintendo’s philosophy for the past 30-plus years, and it’s one that’s working particularly well for the Switch console. Nintendo’s expecting to sell approximately 10 million units of the Switch in the current fiscal year, and some analysts think that’s too conservative an estimate. But even if Nintendo meets that sales expectation, it puts the Japanese game company back on track toward normalcy — Nintendo’s last console, the Wii U, sold just over 13 million units across several years.
Beyond “Breath of the Wild,” which is still driving sales of the Switch, Nintendo has several other big games planned for launch in 2017: “Mario Kart 8 Deluxe,” “Splatoon 2,” and “Super Mario Odyssey.”