The Legend of Zelda turned 35 on Sunday, February 21, but Nintendo let the anniversary pass by without making much noise. If you’re a fan of the publisher’s major adventure series, you might find the silence distressing. But if you look at the anniversary as marketing, Nintendo’s decisions make more sense.
When a corporation celebrates an anniversary, it is with the purpose of selling more products. And the way that Nintendo is going to maximize its return on these marketing efforts is to spread them out and let them breathe.
The first consideration when it comes to the timing of a Zelda anniversary is Mario. Nintendo’s 35th anniversary celebration for Super Mario is still ongoing. It’s unlikely that Nintendo would want celebrations for Zelda and Mario to overlap. It would get more from each if it put some separation between the two events.
The company is ending the Mario anniversary on March 31.
In addition to Mario, Nintendo is also worried about getting the most from each and every new Zelda product going forward.
Skyward Sword is the first step on the Zelda 35th Anniversary journey
Even if Nintendo does start rolling out the party balloons and birthday cake for Zelda, don’t expect it all to come at once. This is still marketing. And Nintendo will want to position The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword HD out in front.
This is one of the biggest reasons that Nintendo didn’t talk about other Zelda beyond Skyward Sword HD in its latest Direct video event. The company doesn’t want other Zelda games to distract from its attempts to bring back Skyward Sword.
Sure, it could’ve released Wind Waker and Twilight Princess at the same time, but the company wants Zelda fans all focused on Skyward Sword.
So instead of creating a situation where other Zelda releases on Switch cannibalize sales that could’ve gone to Skyward Sword, Nintendo will create a steady cadence of releases to celebrate the series. That will start with Skyward Sword HD in July, but we should hear about what is coming soon after that this summer.
Again, the key word here is marketing. Nintendo wants to create a story for Zelda fans that will lead them to spending the most money possible. That begins with Skyward Sword HD in July, continues with the likely ports of Wind Waker/Twilight Princess HD, and then may culminate finally with the launch of Breath of the Wild 2.
The idea is to create key moments that Zelda fans won’t want to miss out on. And to partake in the first step of the festivities, all you have to do is drop $60 for a Wii remaster.
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Author: Jeff Grubb