The release of a new Legend of Zelda game is always an event, and the series often serves as a showcase for Nintendo’s latest platforms. That was the case with Twilight Princess, designed to highlight how the Wii remote’s motion controls could work in a darker and more well-established fantasy setting.
More recently, Breath of the Wild signaled a shift towards some of the trends Nintendo had bucked, like open world settings, role-playing components, and darker themes. If new rumours are to be believed, a new Zelda game could be just over the horizon, and it could be a means for Nintendo to further their expansion into the mobile gaming marketplace.
Big Business Games
Mobile games have become big business, and any major publisher would be remiss not even to entertain the possibility of breaking into this growing market. Such is the case with Nintendo, who have made a recent push towards increasing their mobile portfolio. Nintendo has certainly been no stranger to the mobile market in the past few years.
Despite a long reputation of being incredibly proprietary with their brands, Nintendo has made a strong push towards mobile development. Their first big name game came in the form of Super Mario Run, an endless runner that did an admirable job of converting the Mario formula to touchscreen controls.
They’ve since found modest success with mobile spin-offs for Animal Crossing and Fire Emblem and a genuine smash hit with the release of Pokemon Go.
Micro-transactions and Gacha mechanics
While Nintendo has slowly been learning to adapt to the micro-transactions and gacha mechanics that define the business’ monetisation model, they still haven’t enjoyed the same level of success that some of their competitors like Square Enix and Electronic Arts have.
It would come as no surprise then that Zelda could be making an appearance on the small screen, but the format the game might take could be surprising. Insider rumours suggest that Nintendo could be following a more traditional route with this new release, developing a Zelda game that’s in line with the two-dimensional entries in the series.
That would suggest that this new game would be offered for a single flat fee rather than supported through the use of in-app purchases. It’s a model they tried with their Mario mobile game to mixed results, but a franchise on the scale of Zelda, riding on the wave of Breath of the Wild’s critical acclaim, could justify such an original distribution decision.
While rumours of a mobile Zelda game have been swirling, recent developments could add more fuel to the fire. New president Shuntaro Furukawa announced plans to aggressively expand Nintendo’s reach into the mobile gaming space, with the bold prediction that he can turn that arm of the company into a 100 billion yen industry.
Details are scarce, but if Furukawa is going to make such an aggressive move, the eventual release of a Zelda mobile game is more a question of when than if. After all, it’s Nintendo’s second most well-known series.