“Happy 35th anniversary to The Legend of Zelda“—is what Nintendo could have at least Tweeted on February 21st, 2021, to celebrate the Nintendo game phenomenon that is The Legend of Zelda.
Leading up to The Legend of Zelda anniversary date, Nintendo had been registering trademarks for the game series titles, like Ocarina of Time, Phantom Hourglass, and Skyward Sword. This led to internet-wide speculation about whether a new game release or a special event would be announced on the anniversary day. Maybe Nintendo wanted its fans to have a little hope leading up to the date, but come February 21st, and the Kyoto-based company was silent. Not one nostalgic message crossed their news desk or social media.
Already there have been several angry rants of disappointment online, from people who felt they had their hopes built up by the history of exciting news being announced on game anniversaries. The truth is, Nintendo probably had a good reason for playing it cool for Zelda’s special day.
If you look at what Nintendo currently has going on behind the scenes and the patterns they’ve followed in the past, the proof is in the pudding. There are a few highly possible reasons why the Zelda 35th anniversary was purposefully kept quiet.
Mario’s 35th Anniversary
The number one reason is likely, Mario. Mario’s 35th anniversary, to be specific. This included the release of Super Mario 3D All-Stars, the game that was essentially a collection of three previously popular Mario games. This game is a limited edition, meaning it will not be getting restocked at stores from March 31st 2021—as you might have seen in our previous article.
This means, technically, we’re still in the midst of celebrating Mario’s big birthday. We have to remember that Nintendo is a business that depends on sales. If they don’t succeed, we don’t get to see more of the games we love. It makes financial and marketing sense for Nintendo to keep us all focused on Super Mario 3D All-Stars and the Mario 35th anniversary. Mario is, historically, Nintendo’s proverbial cash cow. Having their star seller as a limited-edition special doesn’t mean they’re not working on other games and hardware updates, though. It just means they want Nintendo fans to focus their buying power in that one direction for now.
Furthermore, with the recent Super Mario 3D World Plus Bowser’s Fury launch, it wouldn’t make sense to draw the attention away from their current, big Mario campaign.
The Numbers Stack Up
“But it’s Zelda’s 35th anniversary too!”, I hear you cry.
True, but throw Pokémon into the mix, too. The Pokémon 25th anniversary was also fast approaching in February—with Pokémon turning 25 on February 27th, 2021. To mark the anniversary, a campaign officially branded Pokémon25 will run all year. There will be announcements throughout, starting with Pokémon Legends: Arceus, which takes Pokémon open-world.
The hard truth is that the Nintendo executives will view the Zelda, Mario, and Pokémon franchises as monetary figures. Pokémon probably took precedence over Zelda because Pokémon is 25 times more valuable than Zelda. Put plainly; the Zelda brand is worth roughly 4 billion dollars. Pokémon is worth 100 billion dollars. And Mario? That’s worth around 35 billion dollars. It makes Zelda look small fry in comparison.
As you look into these figures, you can see why not only Mario but Pokémon temporarily pushed Zelda back into the shadows while they took some of that coveted promotional limelight.
Disappointed Fans Are a No-No
Finances and franchise numbers aside, Nintendo understands they have a very highly critiqued and publicised presence in the media and online. This is in large part due to the fans and dedicated following. We tend to overanalyse every little thing that Nintendo sends into the ether. Take The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild 2 trailer as a prime example. Nearly two years have passed, and we’re still concocting theories based on the 90-second trailer (guilty). Most Nintendo games fans would admit to reading way too much into any celebration post to mark Zelda’s 35th anniversary. Even something as simple as “thank you for 35 years of playing Zelda, here’s to 35 more” would have gotten people searching for a secret message or hundreds of comments describing their disappointment at the fact that a new trailer hadn’t dropped.
Nintendo is aware that we’re expecting that stuff, and they probably simply don’t have enough in development for a new trailer that would satisfy and not mislead followers. As a company, they can’t afford to disappoint 4 billion dollars’ worth of people. They might just want to focus on the franchise later in the year too.
Many fans would be loathed to admit it, but we probably would have been disappointed with a meagre thank you message. We need more details or exciting announcements. What Nintendo doesn’t want to do is mislead anyone. There’s no sense generating mass-hysteria over an anniversary when there’s so much just around the corner that fans can really sink their teeth into.
The final and most exciting reason why Nintendo let the Zelda anniversary slide is because of their upcoming plans for The Legend of Zelda franchise.
As I mentioned before, there are several reasons to believe this. If we remember what was covered in the recent Nintendo direct regarding Zelda, they opened up by confirming The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild 2 is coming later this year. Anyone who’s anyone in the gaming world knows about Breath of the Wild and its sequel. For the first time since the original trailer in June 2019, fans and the industry have a confirmed expectation. That’s a pretty huge reason to hold off any big announcements or news.
Let’s not forget that Zelda already has another game release coming July 16th with Skyward Sword‘s HD remaster. This is a game that’s been hyped up by Nintendo for its adaptation to the Switch consoles, and we’re certainly going to grab a copy to review this summer.