Breath of the Wild is the Highest Selling Zelda in Japan in 19 Years

Oct 27, 2017
704
#1

I felt this was worth its own thread, since so many of these "micro-discussions" get lost amidst all the other conversations in Media Create threads: The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild is officially the second-highest-selling Zelda game in its domestic market of Japan since Ocarina of Time (1998).

To rephrase: it has outsold every other Zelda game that has been released in the past 18 years.

Here are the facts:
  • As of last week, the game has sold 957,752 units in Japan at retail
  • This figure only accounts for retail sales, so the number is even higher when accounting for digital sales
  • This figure also does not represent the latest sales figures for the Wii U version
  • Ocarina of Time has sold approximately 1.25 million units in Japan
  • The previous second-highest-selling Zelda was Phantom Hourglass (2007) at 907,821 units sold

How we got to this point:

At the risk of a little self-promotion, I'd like to highlight an article I recently wrote on the subject of Breath of the Wild's sales in Japan. You can find it here: Zelda: Breath of the Wild is Beating All Expectations in Japan

A forum post isn't really conducive to lengthier write-ups, but the article goes into fair detail about the development philosophy behind Skyward Sword, how that hurt the Zelda brand, and what corrective steps Nintendo took to rectify the situation. It also discusses the success of other open-world games in Japan such as GTA, pointing out that this sort of success isn't necessarily unheard of.

I want to keep highlighting more interesting Zelda stuff in the future this way. I actually maintain an enormous spreadsheet that basically tracks the development history of the entire series dating back to the early games using interviews with various development staff. It's a project that took me more than a year to compile and it's been incredibly educational.

If anybody would like to see the actual sheet itself, I'd be more than happy to share. In fact, I think it would give Zelda fans in here tons of material to create their own threads with (wait until you see some of the Miyamoto quotes over the years, heh), and help accurately inform people in the process as well.
 
Oct 25, 2017
4,010
#3
Recently came back to it and am enjoying it more than ever. Can't wait to see how they expand on this new formula.
 
Oct 27, 2017
1,718
#7
I think it will continue selling for a long time. Surpassing Ocarina of Time is not out of reach, especially if you count the combined WiiU and Switch sales.
 

Branduil

Banned
Member
Oct 25, 2017
1,705
#13
Watch out Hero of Time the Wild Boy is coming for you.

It's only a matter of time before the game passes OoT this year. The really interesting thing will be the marathon to reach original LoZ numbers. Not an easy goal, but BotW has a ton of time to do it.
 
Oct 25, 2017
7,188
#14
That Ocarina of Time number is really impressive considering how poorly the N64 sold there

Minish cap was fucking robbed its 10x better then Phantom hourglass
 
Oct 25, 2017
1,639
#15
100% happening, it'll be 2019/2020.
I don't think we can say this with any certainty. The only 3D Zelda sequel we have seen is Majora's Mask, and that was so significantly different from OOT that it may as well not have been a sequel in terms of gameplay and world. (That's no knock on the game, it's one of my faves.) Given Nintendo's frequently stated wish (and Aonuma's, if I recall correctly) to make each new entry significantly fresh and unique, I think (and personally hope) the next game will be at least aesthetically and world-wise very different, and very possibly not a direct sequel to BOTW.
 
Oct 27, 2017
3,319
#17

I felt this was worth its own thread, since so many of these "micro-discussions" get lost amidst all the other conversations in Media Create threads: The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild is officially the second-highest-selling Zelda game in its domestic market of Japan since Ocarina of Time (1998).

To rephrase: it has outsold every other Zelda game that has been released in the past 18 years.

Here are the facts:
  • As of last week, the game has sold 957,752 units in Japan at retail
  • This figure only accounts for retail sales, so the number is even higher when accounting for digital sales
  • This figure also does not represent the latest sales figures for the Wii U version
  • Ocarina of Time has sold approximately 1.25 million units in Japan
  • The previous second-highest-selling Zelda was Phantom Hourglass (2007) at 907,821 units sold
How we got to this point:

At the risk of a little self-promotion, I'd like to highlight an article I recently wrote on the subject of Breath of the Wild's sales in Japan. You can find it here: Zelda: Breath of the Wild is Beating All Expectations in Japan

A forum post isn't really conducive to lengthier write-ups, but the article goes into fair detail about the development philosophy behind Skyward Sword, how that hurt the Zelda brand, and what corrective steps Nintendo took to rectify the situation. It also discusses the success of other open-world games in Japan such as GTA, pointing out that this sort of success isn't necessarily unheard of.

I want to keep highlighting more interesting Zelda stuff in the future this way. I actually maintain an enormous spreadsheet that basically tracks the development history of the entire series dating back to the early games using interviews with various development staff. It's a project that took me more than a year to compile and it's been incredibly educational.

If anybody would like to see the actual sheet itself, I'd be more than happy to share. In fact, I think it would give Zelda fans in here tons of material to create their own threads with (wait until you see some of the Miyamoto quotes over the years, heh), and help accurately inform people in the process as well.
Of the games with "first week" numbers, it seems like the legs of BotW is already proportionally longer than for all the other titles, except Twilight Princess. At what numbers will BotW surpass Twilight Pricess' legs/firstweek ratio?
 

Conor419

Banned
Member
Nov 26, 2017
2,320
London
#21
I don't think we can say this with any certainty. The only 3D Zelda sequel we have seen is Majora's Mask, and that was so significantly different from OOT that it may as well not have been a sequel in terms of gameplay and world. (That's no knock on the game, it's one of my faves.) Given Nintendo's frequently stated wish (and Aonuma's, if I recall correctly) to make each new entry significantly fresh and unique, I think (and personally hope) the next game will be at least aesthetically and world-wise very different, and very possibly not a direct sequel to BOTW.
Nintendo tend to do direct sequels when the big ones do well.

Galaxy 1/2
OOT/MM
Metroid Prime 1–3
Super Mario World 1/2

There's deff gonna be a BOTW2.

The only glaring omission is Super Metroid imo
 

Branduil

Banned
Member
Oct 25, 2017
1,705
#22
Of the games with "first week" numbers, it seems like the legs of BotW is already proportionally longer than for all the other titles, except Twilight Princess. At what numbers will BotW surpass Twilight Pricess' legs/firstweek ratio?
Well, just like TP, BotW is one of the only Zeldas to launch with a system(while also releasing on the previous gen system). However, the Switch looks to be far more popular than the Wii in Japan, and along with the game's popular reception, it makes sense that it would have longer legs.
 
Oct 25, 2017
1,639
#28
Nintendo tend to do direct sequels when the big ones do well.

Galaxy 1/2
OOT/MM
Metroid Prime 1–3
Super Mario World 1/2

There's deff gonna be a BOTW2.

The only glaring omission is Super Metroid imo
I see your point, but there are so many other massively successful games you left off that did not get direct sequels. But, if you consider OOT/MM and SMW the kind of direct sequel situation we could see with BOTW, where the aesthetic and world are significantly different (and potentially, the gameplay), then I think it is not as unlikely, though I don't necessarily expect a BOTW2 kind of title/premise, as the only Zelda games like that while featuring the same game world is significantly different in gameplay (LTTP2), and I guess my overall point is more just that I don't foresee a sequel using the same world as I think that would be a massive disappointment to fans in many scenarios.
 
Oct 29, 2017
341
#29
The DS games sold way better than Link Between Worlds... Japanese Market has horrible taste. So we should not put too much weight to their sales.
But I am pretty sure Breath of The Wild will surpass Ocarina of Time. It is not even a year old and the Switch is still building its base.
 
Oct 25, 2017
2,476
#30
Ocarina won't stand against it when all is said and done, either. The original is the only one that might have higher sales- and I do mean might.

Worldwide's not an argument- BOTW will be the highest-selling Zelda, and by no small margin.
 

Conor419

Banned
Member
Nov 26, 2017
2,320
London
#33
I see your point, but there are so many other massively successful games you left off that did not get direct sequels. But, if you consider OOT/MM and SMW the kind of direct sequel situation we could see with BOTW, where the aesthetic and world are significantly different (and potentially, the gameplay), then I think it is not as unlikely, though I don't necessarily expect a BOTW2 kind of title/premise, as the only Zelda games like that while featuring the same game world is significantly different in gameplay (LTTP2), and I guess my overall point is more just that I don't foresee a sequel using the same world as I think that would be a massive disappointment to fans in many scenarios.
Like what though? TP is the only one i can think of from those three franchises, but that game already very directly ties in with OOT & MM.
 
Oct 25, 2017
1,205
#36
I see your point, but there are so many other massively successful games you left off that did not get direct sequels. But, if you consider OOT/MM and SMW the kind of direct sequel situation we could see with BOTW, where the aesthetic and world are significantly different (and potentially, the gameplay), then I think it is not as unlikely, though I don't necessarily expect a BOTW2 kind of title/premise, as the only Zelda games like that while featuring the same game world is significantly different in gameplay (LTTP2), and I guess my overall point is more just that I don't foresee a sequel using the same world as I think that would be a massive disappointment to fans in many scenarios.
When people talk about a potential BotW2 they usually aren't referring to a straight sequel that re-uses its world, but to a game that directly builds up on its tech and assets. Similar to Galaxy/Galaxy 2 and OoT/MM.

I definitely see it happening, in any case. Switch just launched, so the Zelda team's next game will definitely still target the platform. At the same time, they'll surely want avoid another 5 year development cycle, because it would put the next Zelda once again in the awkward transition period between consoles.
 
Oct 27, 2017
2,704
#37
When people talk about a potential BotW2 they usually aren't referring to a straight sequel that re-uses its world, but to a game that directly builds up on its tech and assets. Similar to Galaxy/Galaxy 2 and OoT/MM.

I definitely see it happening, in any case. Switch just launched, so the Zelda team's next game will definitely still target the platform. At the same time, they'll surely want avoid another 5 year development cycle, because it would put the next Zelda once again in the awkward transition period between consoles.
I remember someone from Nintendo, possibly Aonuma, mentioning that they're looking into ways to reuse assets/systems/engine from BotW to reduce development time and not having to start from stretch again. I'd say the chances of a new 3D-Zelda in 2020/2021 are extremely likely.
 
Oct 29, 2017
2,398
#43
I remember someone from Nintendo, possibly Aonuma, mentioning that they're looking into ways to reuse assets/systems/engine from BotW to reduce development time and not having to start from stretch again. I'd say the chances of a new 3D-Zelda in 2020/2021 are extremely likely.
Was that talking about Zelda though? IIRC Nintendo shares (parts of) their engines across titles, with Zelda and Xenoblade teams working together on assets. I could also imagine other franchises getting the open world treatment hereafter. (though I'm not sure necessarily which one outside of Metroid)
 
Jan 22, 2018
767
Norway
#44
Was that talking about Zelda though? IIRC Nintendo shares (parts of) their engines across titles, with Zelda and Xenoblade teams working together on assets. I could also imagine other franchises getting the open world treatment hereafter. (though I'm not sure necessarily which one outside of Metroid)
Please be Pokemon.
 
Oct 27, 2017
2,704
#45
Was that talking about Zelda though? IIRC Nintendo shares (parts of) their engines across titles, with Zelda and Xenoblade teams working together on assets. I could also imagine other franchises getting the open world treatment hereafter. (though I'm not sure necessarily which one outside of Metroid)
I'm not sure, I'm having trouble finding the original quote. I read it in the context of the next Zelda, but it could be that they meant what you're saying.

EDIT: You are correct, the quote didn't specificially mention Zelda or it's engine and was talking more in the broad sense of things. My bad.
 
Last edited:
Oct 26, 2017
2,142
#48
Is that not simply in line with the Switch's early popularity?
No.
It is outperforming Twilight Princess (Wii+GC) and Phantom Hourglass (DS) both released when Wii and DS were booming in Japan.
It's not just related to hardware popularity, seems japanese gamers are attracted by the new formula.
 

Chronospherics

Games User Researcher at Player Research
Verified
Oct 28, 2017
1,569
Brighton
#50
The article linked in the post goes into a lot of the different factors at play. It also talks about why Nintendo have been reluctant to create a game like Breath of the Wild until now.
Interesting.

I feel as though the overall media attention that resulted from its critical acclaim is a potential overlooked factor too. I also think the article downplays the involvement of the Switch. Describing the Switch as 'something inbetween a handheld and a console' is doing the system a disservice, as it's clear that many consumers see the system as fulfilling both roles competently. Effectively generating a larger audience than either handheld, or home console would have alone.