What do you think is the biggest Zelda launch in the UK games industry?
(Pretend I didn’t spoil it in the headline)
Breath of the Wild? No, well, actually, yes… I’ll come back to that one.
Ocarina of Time? No, well, kind-of, actually… bear with me, I’ll come back to that one, too.
The biggest Zelda game launch on a single format in the UK is actually The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker, which was released on GameCube back in 2003. Not bad for a console that only sold one million units in the UK.
You may have noticed a caveat in there. I used the term ‘on a single format’. Almost every Zelda game has only launched on one format. Even Twilight Princess, released in 2005, launched on Wii one week before the GameCube version.
There is one exception and that was The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, which released on Wii U and Switch back in 2017 at the same time. And if we combine the launch sales on Wii U and Switch, actually Breath of the Wild is the biggest Zelda launch in the UK… by just 2,000 units. Every data point in this article is courtesy of GfK.
Of course, both Breath of the Wild and Twilight Princess were launch titles for Switch and Wii, and to quote GfK games boss Dorian Bloch: “You can’t sell more of your flag-waving game than the console, right?”
But here’s another fun stat: Breath of the Wild and Wind Waker may be the biggest launches for a Zelda game so far, but the biggest week for a Zelda game in the UK was actually the second week of Ocarina of Time. The N64 game was in very short supply during its debut week, and it wasn’t until the week after (which was the week before Christmas 1998) that the stock properly arrived, sending the game straight to Christmas No.1. That week is comfortably the biggest one for a Zelda game in the UK.
Will Tears of the Kingdom break Wind Waker, Breath of the Wild and Ocarina of Time’s respective records? Of course it will.
All this data is from GfK, which tracks physical game sales in the UK and has done for decades. In fact, the data here goes back to 1993. There are a few games missing from the figures, including the first game, Link’s Adventure, A Link To The Past, and the first two CDi Zelda games (Faces of Evil and Wands of Gamelon).