A Link to the Future - Who Will Be Playing 'The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom'?

Written by
Will Taylor

27 Apr, 2023

With release set for May 12th, the gaming world is ablaze with excitement for The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom, the much anticipated sequel to Breath of the Wild (2017). Selling over 30 million copies since launch and garnering huge critical acclaim (97% on Metacritic; 10/10 on IGN), expectations for the sequel are high. Players were quick to praise the breathtaking art style and performance of the game, which looks every bit as current six years on. Though the bar is high, based on the quality of the last game and the nearly six years spent on its development, the public is confident Tears of the Kingdom will live up to the hype.

In order to get an idea of the sequel’s UK audience, we ran a study looking at the potential reach of the upcoming game through the lens of those currently engaging with Breath of the Wild(BotW)-focussed accounts and content. In addition to official Nintendo accounts and channels, we also looked at those following popular BotW streamers and content creators for a more holistic view of the market.

Figure 1: Study Visualisation Annotated With Key Groups
Figure 1: Study Visualisation Annotated With Key Groups

Here’s the breakdown:

Keen RPG Gamers:

The Keen RPG Gamers pinpoint a genre-specific audience and one that is strongly invested in the Zelda universe. In contrast to a wider, more general gaming audience, this community’s affinity for RPG gaming makes them a valuable opportunity for marketers; in addition to Zelda and Nintendo, we see in their top influencers references to other mammoth RPG franchises like Assassin’s Creed, The Elder Scrolls, and Mass Effect.

The fact that this audience coalesces around a particular genre is interesting because it’s not something we often see in gaming-related studies; more common is a single gaming tribe amongst groups that find their focus in other areas. This audience focus paints the picture of a group driven by storytelling, one that is deeply invested in the ins and outs of the worlds in which their favourite games are set.

Figure 2: Breakdown of Keen RPG Gamers Audience
Figure 2: Breakdown of Keen RPG Gamers Audience

Film & Music Buffs:

This audience cluster speaks to the overlap we are seeing at the moment between different types of media, namely between video games and film and TV. With the release of The Super Mario Bros. Movie this year, along with the huge success of The Last of Us - having made its way onto our TV screens after success in the gaming world - we are seeing the growth of truly cross-platform, cross-channel franchises.

The Film & Music Buffs also give us a window into what is perhaps a more creatively-minded segment of the Zelda audience. Breath of the Wild has long been praised not only for its cinematic quality, owing to its vast, sweeping landscapes and voice acting, but also for its masterful sound design. A group appreciative of these aspects of the game is one to watch.

Figure 3: Breakdown of Film & TV Buffs Audience
Figure 3: Breakdown of Film & TV Buffs Audience

UK Retro Gamers:

This audience is one that reflects The Legend of Zelda’s status as a true legacy franchise. Spanning all the way back to 1986, when the first game in the series was released, the franchise has grown alongside its audience and many fans of the original games are still playing the newer entries nigh on four decades later. Nintendo is somewhat known for the loyalty of their fans, as well as their expert ability to draw on nostalgia to drive sales, and the result is clear - an enduring player base as excited about the history of gaming as they are its future. This kind of longevity is aspirational for game developers and speaks to the potential of younger brands in creating loyalty and a lasting fanbase.

The creative undercurrent also continues with this cluster - top professions include: creator; game developer; musician; illustrator; and graphic designer. The inclusion of these kinds of individuals in the study is interesting in that it signifies a departure from the classic gaming audience, or what we might expect to see. It’s not just the expressive visuals and sound design that are drawing in fans from outside mainstream audiences: another area in which Breath of the Wild excelled is its highly flexible gameplay style, something we anticipate the return of in the sequel. While other similar titles can, at times, be prohibitively complex and difficult for less-experienced players, BotW rewards creativity. Problems and challenges in the game can be solved using any combination of techniques and solutions, powered by intuitive and impressively-polished physics and chemistry engines. This, combined with playful gameplay mechanics keep the experience enjoyable and accessible for a hugely diverse range of people.

Figure 4: Breakdown of UK Retro Gamers Audience
Figure 4: Breakdown of UK Retro Gamers Audience

In sum, we’re expecting huge numbers for Tears of the Kingdom on release day. Not only this, but the potential audience is incredibly diverse. A combination of the story-led, well-rounded RPG gameplay; charming, cinematic visuals; and nod to the past that Nintendo is known for means the potential reach of the upcoming game is impressive. Though the Keen RPG Gamers form our core audience, the elevated presence of Film & TV Buffs and UK Retro Games in our study suggests considerable opportunity outside traditional gaming audiences.

To find out how your brand can stay relevant with the modern gaming audience, get in touch with us at hello@fifty.io.

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