In the heart of the pandemic, Nintendo found itself at the center of the pop culture world as people trapped at home found themselves charmed by (and hooked on) Animal Crossing: New Horizons. That game went on to sell over 40 million copies worldwide.
Friday’s release of The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom could well leave those numbers in the dust.
Tears of the Kingdom is not only the most anticipated Nintendo title of 2023, it could well be the most anticipated video game period. Reviews, which began hitting the Internet Thursday, are overwhelmingly positive, with scores of 9/10 and higher. And analysts say it’s a catalyst for the company.
“Nintendo has the potential to beat out its guidance as the highly anticipated new Zelda game should help to spur on hardware sales and potentially deliver software sales upside,” said Nick McKay of Wedbush in a note to investors.
Zelda has already been a sales driver for the Nintendo Switch. Breath of the Wild was a launch title for the system and was both a critical and commercial success, moving the long-running franchise into more of an open world environment, letting players progress at their own pace. Tears builds on that legacy, encouraging players to create their own pathways as they progress through the game using their imagination to invent solutions, from rocket ships to robots.
Nintendo is counting on Tears of the Kingdom to reinvigorate Switch sales, which have stagnated of late as the console ages. McKay says he expects that to happen, perhaps on a scale that brings the industry’s biggest title to mind.
“We expect the game to benefit from a Switch hardware installed base of over 125 million, similar to the boost that 2013’s Grand Theft Auto V from Take-Two received from its own release timing,” he wrote. ”Although expecting Zelda to match GTA V in terms of early or lifetime sales is unrealistic, we think that Zelda will generate a similar last hurrah sentiment from Nintendo enthusiasts.”
An expected price cut for the hardware later in the year could give the game (and the company) another boost.