What is powering Tears of the Kingdom to almost 20 million sales?

Link with Master Sword in Zelda Tears of the Kingdom

The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom has reached an impressive sales milestone with 19.5 million copies now sold since its May release, the latest Nintendo financial report reveals. 

The Legend of Zelda series has consistently been a standout success in Nintendo’s portfolio. The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild made its debut in March 2017 and has sold an astounding 31.15 million units so far. Several other installments in the series have also surpassed double-digit milestones. Ocarina of Time, Link’s Awakening, and Twilight Princess each sold around or over 10 million units worldwide, as reported by Statista.

Tears of the Kingdom’s achievement is particularly notable because it is ahead of the pace of sales of its predecessor. While Breath of the Wild took more than three years to reach 20 million sales, Tears of the Kingdom nearly reached that milestone in a few months. This begs the question of what makes Tears of the Kingdom so successful relative to Breath of the Wild.

Why did Tears Of The Kingdom sell 19.5 million copies so quickly?

This is likely due to a combination of factors, including the Nintendo Switch’s larger owner base in 2023 compared to the time when Breath of the Wild was released, as well as the new game’s unique and robust building component.

The Nintendo Switch console itself was not widely available when Breath of the Wild first launched. In addition, Nintendo was facing challenges at the time due to the poor sales of the Wii U, which may have made potential buyers hesitant to invest in another Nintendo console. 

The Switch’s fortunes have since turned around, and as of 2023, approximately 130 million units of the Nintendo Switch have been sold worldwide. This significant market presence likely contributed greatly to the rapid success of Tears of the Kingdom.

The second reason for Tears of the Kingdom’s speedy success could be attributed to the game’s unique Zonai building mechanic. Tears of the Kingdom features an extensive Minecraft-style crafting element that allows players to build various contraptions and inventions from the so-called Zonai parts, including airplanes, rocket launchers, and tensegrity devices. 

zelda master sword

There are numerous dedicated communities across social media spaces focused on deciphering additional building blueprints and uncovering secrets within the game, and all of them are still actively engaged with the game on a daily basis. This level of community involvement and commitment was not present to the same extent in Breath of the Wild.

Will Tears of the Kingdom be able to generate more sales in the future?

Given the ongoing development of a live-action movie for the Zelda series and the rumored backward compatibility feature of the upcoming Switch 2 console, it is highly likely that Tears of the Kingdom will generate even more sales moving forward. 

Sony and Nintendo have recently announced that they are collaborating on a live-action Zelda film with the involvement of Avi Arad, the founder of Marvel Studios. The movie is expected to increase the popularity of the Zelda series, which in turn could boost sales of Tears of the Kingdom and future Zelda games.

Nintendo president Shuntaro Furukawa has expressed his intention to ensure a seamless transition for Nintendo Switch account owners to the next-generation console. 

In other words, future console owners might also be able to enjoy previous Zelda games on the new Nintendo platform and sustain sales for a longer period of time independent of console exclusivity.

That said, some leaks suggest that not every future Nintendo console model will include backward compatibility, but nothing is yet officially confirmed on Nintendo’s part.

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Written by Mohamed Hassan

Mohamed still treasures his time playing games on the original PlayStation, speedrunning through the Megaman X games and replaying acclaimed role-playing game Chrono Cross countless times. Since then, his love for JRPGs and platformers has only grown and is among the driving forces behind his passion for writing about video games. He has previously written for DualShockers and Same Old Gaming, and he can be found on Twitter / X at @Weltschmerz2887.

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