Welcome to this week’s edition of “A Sales History.” This week we will be taking a look at the sales history of The Legend of Zelda franchise, which was requested by user SangheliZealotX last week. To clarify one thing, the sales will be for the main games released on consoles, otherwise the charts would be too cluttered.
Last week we looked at sales history of Super Smash Bros. and the week before that Battlefield. If there is a particular franchise (no matter how obscure) you want to see the sales history for, requests are always welcome.
History of the Game
The Legend of Zelda franchise is an action-adventure series based in a fantasy world known as Hyrule. Hyrule is inhabited by elven humanoids called Hylians. The main character Link, as well as the princess Zelda are Hylians. The protagonist Link is a reincarnated Hylian youth who wears a green tunic and pointed hat. Link is often given the task of rescuing Princess Zelda who has been captured by Ganon, or other antagonists.
The original game was released on the NES on February 21, 1986 in Japan. The game was created by Shigeru Miyamoto and Takashi Tezuka. It was the first game in the series to feature the Triforce, however it only had two pieces, Wisdom and Power, as well as the main characters Link, Zelda and Ganon.
The gameplay features a mix of action, adventure, battles, puzzles, exploration, and quests. While the basic elements have remained the same over the years, the series has gone through refinements, with the biggest transformation coming in the way of 3D with the release of Ocarina of Time on the Nintendo 64.
In the chart above, the Legend of Zelda franchise for consoles has sold 38.90 million units. Looking at the release dates the majority of the games were released in the 2000’s, four. With one released in the 1980’s, two in the 1990’s, and one in the 2010’s. There was one main game released on the NES ( VGChartz does not have any sales figures for The Adventure of Link), one for the SNES, two for the Nintendo 64, three on the game GameCube and two on the Wii. Twilight Princess is the only mainline console game to be released on two consoles.
Twilight Princess with both versions combined is the bestselling Zelda game, but if you separate the two than Ocarina of Time is the bestselling. Twilight Princess has sold 6.51 million units on the Wii and 1.59 million units on the GameCube. Four Swords is the clear outlier, not even selling a million units.
Looking at the bar graph above it is easy to see that The Legend of Zelda franchise has not had consistent sales over its lifetimes. One thing that does stick out that on the platforms with more than one Zelda game is that the first game is always the bestselling. Ocarina of Time outsold Majora’s Mask, The Wind Waker outsold Four Swords and the GameCube version of Twilight Princess, and the Wii version of Twilight Princess outsold Skyward Sword.
Looking at the sales for each console in a pie chart (Twilight Princess sales have been split up), the NES sold 6.51 million units, the SNES 4.61 million units, N64 10.96 million units, GameCube 7.00 million units, and the Wii 9.82 million units. The average sales per game on each console is 6.51 million on the NES, 4.61 million on the SNES, 5.48 million on the N64, 2.33 million on the GameCube, and 4.91 million on the Wii.
Looking at the weekly sales of Twilight Princess for the Wii and Skyward Sword shows that while Skyward Sword had a much bigger launch, its sales quickly fell after two months of being on the market. Skyward Sword had sold 2.03 million units after four weeks on sale, and passed three million after nine weeks. It took Twilight Princess eight weeks to pass two million units sold and 27 weeks to pass three million. Twilight Princess has had much stronger legs averaging between 30,000 and 40,000 units sold on a weekly basis six months after release, while Skyward Sword is only averaging around 10,000 units sold per week. Skyward Sword is not looking likely that it will reach four million sold.
Predictions for Future Releases
There is nothing definite about future releases in the series. However Nintendo has hinted at an HD The Legend of Zelda game for the Wii U. They have confirmed an original title for the 3DS and are thinking about a remake of Majora’s Mask. Predictions for future titles are only speculative at best when it comes to The Legend of Zelda, because their sales and release dates have been sporadic.
With no announcement for any Zelda game at E3 2012, the earliest we should expect to see a new game is during the holiday 2013. But with Skyward Sword just released this past Fall, don’t expect to see Zelda on the Wii U until well into 2014. That would give Nintendo three years to develop the game. For the 3DS, while Ocarina of Time 3D was released roughly a little over a year ago, it was just a port of the N64 game. A Zelda 3DS game should come out before the Wii U game. Let’s say a release in Fall 2013.
Predicting the sales will be even harder. With neither game being a launch title should help sales at launch. First week sales should top one million units worldwide for both games. Also lifetime sales for both games should easily be over three million units. The 3DS game will most likely sell between Spirit Tracks and Phantom Hourglass which sold 3.10 million units and 4.93 million units respectively. That would put lifetime sales in the 3.5 million to 4.5 million unit range. The Wii U game could top out at around seven million units, but will more than likely sell in the five to six million unit range.
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