Zelda fanship has been steadily increasing over the last year

The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild is not only one of the most acclaimed video games ever, but it’s also the fourth best-selling title for Nintendo Switch and the best-selling title in the venerable franchise, having racked up 22.3 million unit sales as of March 31st. For many fans, the open-world Zelda was a system seller in 2017 when the Switch debuted. Four years later, eager Switch owners are awaiting Breath of the Wild 2, which won’t be released until some time in 2022.

During its E3 video presentation recently, Nintendo’s management team lifted the veil on more gameplay footage, which instantly sparked a variety of fan theories and debates about whether breakable weapons should be brought back for the sequel. Nintendo’s methodical drip feed approach to releasing information and new footage keeps fans engaged and yields quick social media marketing benefits. On top of that, Switch’s hardware momentum (it was the top-selling console in the US in May, according to The NPD Group) means that new fans are continually entering the ecosystem and playing Breath of the Wild for the first time.

According to Interpret’s New Media Measure®, fanship for the Zelda franchise has continued to rise over the last year, increasing from 23% of the US population at the start of 2020 to more than 27% by the end of the year. While that’s far behind the flagship Super Mario series at 46% of consumers, it’s roughly equal to another blockbuster franchise that shows no signs of slowing down: Pokemon.

Nintendo understands that its fans are hungry for more Zelda content, and so it’s doing what Nintendo has always excelled at: repackaging and reselling games in new ways. On July 16th, players will be able to pick up the newly remastered Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword, which originally appeared on the Wii in November 2011. Additionally, in a brilliant move that plays to nostalgia for the IP, Nintendo is launching a special-edition Game & Watch console this November, preloaded with four games: the original NES The Legend of Zelda, its sequel, Zelda II: The Adventure of Link, The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening, and a Game & Watch Vermin game with Link’s character imposed over the original character.