Zelda: Breath of the Wild not locked for Switch Launch

Chris Stead 26 September 2016


The nineteenth Legend of Zelda game is looking incredible, but will it be ready for the launch of the Nintendo Switch?

I came across a brand new Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild ad yesterday and it looked stunning. All white, except for Link on his horse in the middle, showing off the glorious cel-shaded look of the coming game. But what caught my attention most sat just below the iconic hero: the date – 2017. Not "March 2017," just 2017. But isn’t the Nintendo Switch coming out in March 2017? Isn’t Breath of the Wild its big launch game?

That’s what I had thought. But on closer inspection, it turns out Nintendo hasn’t ever referred to Breath of the Wild as a launch game for the Nintendo Switch. That was a wrong assumption on my part; one I believe many consumers may have made because of a series of events that occurred independently, yet seemed to all point in the same direction.

Firstly, Breath of the Wild was delayed from its original 2016 release date into 2017. Then Nintendo announced that its next console, codenamed NX (which we now know as Switch), would be releasing in March 2017. Soon after a statement came out from Nintendo America, via Twitter, stating "The new Legend of #Zelda will be the focus of #E32016. It will launch simultaneously on both Wii U and NX in 2017."

Somehow my brain drew a line between those three dots and went, "launch game." Possibly because there’s logic and precedent to that move. Here’s why:

  1.  For starters, every new console needs a big first-party to help establish it in the marketplace. There are few IPs bigger than Zelda.
  2.  Nintendo was aiming for 2016. Breath of the Wild is currently very playable at game shows, so it must be in the backend of its development.
  3.  The Nintendo press site listed March 2017 briefly then removed it.
  4.  The "inside sources" that have been leaking information have consistently referred to Breath of the Wild as a launch title.
  5.  Nintendo has done this before: delaying a Zelda game – Twilight Princess – that was supposed to come out on one console (GameCube), so it could be the launch title for a new console (Wii). Nintendo's biggest selling console ever, no less.

So for all these reasons, I had assumed it was a launch game for the Switch. After seeing this new advertisement and researching what has been revealed publicly, it is clear Nintendo is not committing to Breath of the Wild being a launch title just yet. It has committed to a March window for the release of the Nintendo NX and to a simultaneous release on Wii U and Switch only. This to me suggests three potential outcomes:

  1.  It is a launch game for Nintendo Switch, but the company is withholding official confirmation.
  2.  It is a launch game for Nintendo Switch, but Nintendo aren’t sure if the console itself will hit its March release window.
  3.  It isn’t a launch game, and is targeting some other date between April and December 2017.

The whole thing is a bit of a mess to be honest. Recently there was an alleged leak wherein a release date for the Breath of the Wild amiibo were "accidentally" uploaded on the Nintendo of Europe website. As seen in the picture below (courtesy of the Nintendo NX subreddit), the BoTW Link (Archer) amiibo was given a 04/03/2017 release date.


This is far from confirmation that Breath of the Wild will launch in March. It could be an accident (these things happen), but even if it is true that doesn't necessarily mean we will see Breath of the Wild in March. Amazon still states a December 2016 release date in the US and a December 2017 date for Canada, and Target US has Breath of the Wild preorders slated for 13 June 17.  Random placeholder dates are used for online products regularly when there's no confirmed release date.

What do you think? Leave your thoughts in the comments below.

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