The Legend of Zelda is one of the oldest and most popular gaming franchises in history, with the first game released in 1986 and it is set in the fantasy world of Hyrule. In the Legend of Zelda games, the protagonist is a young elf named Link who needs to save a princess from the evil Ganon. When it comes to its setting, The Legend of Zelda was an instant hit with gamers of that time and it received massive demand for new games to be released in later years. Due to its enormous popularity, the Legend of Zelda franchise has spawned numerous games and merchandise over the years, and this has led to some impressive earnings for Nintendo as a result. To put the success of this epic franchise into some perspective, we will now take a look at some The Legend of Zelda statistics and see how much money the franchise has made since the first game came out. Of course, we don’t only dabble in story-driven game information, so if you want to learn something new, such as the video game industry’s worth, we have all the answers!
The Legend of Zelda key stats
This section is going to take a look at some key stats surrounding the Legend of Zelda franchise, from total games released to copies sold to the total revenue it generated. Since this series has been around for more than thirty years, it has had more than enough time to accumulate numerous accolades and achievements that make it a titan of the gaming industry and something that a vast majority of gamers have experienced in one way or another. The games are so popular that some of the titular characters of The Legend of Zelda have found themselves in many fields of pop culture and other games. Let’s take a look.
The Legend of Zelda franchise has made over $3.4 billion.
(Source: TitleMax, TheGamer)
- The franchise has been around for 36 years.
- The franchise has a total of 29 games.
- This number includes original games, re-releases, spinoffs, and remakes.
From this line of stats, we can see that the Legend of Zelda franchise is definitely a global staple in gaming, having accumulated over 3.4$ billion during its 36 years in the gaming industry, which is very impressive, although other franchises like Mario and Pokemon overshadow it considerably. Nevertheless, this franchise is a massive success for Nintendo and it can only go up from here.
Tears of the Kingdom is fastest-selling game in the franchise with 10 million units sold in its first three days.
(Source: CNN, IGN)
- Tears of the Kingdom has set new records, becoming the fastest-selling game in the franchise’s history.
- It’s the quickest-selling Nintendo game on any system in the Americas
- Tears of the Kingdom is a time-intensive game, with the main story requiring an estimated 51 hours to complete
- Completionists are expected to spend well over 100 hours to finish all side quests and extras.
- The game’s complexity is designed for players familiar with the Zelda universe, potentially challenging for casual gamers
The highest-selling game of the franchise is Breath of the Wild with 27.79 million sales.
(Source: Statista, VG Sales)
- The entire series has over 123.3 million sales.
- Ocarina of Time has 13.94 million sales.
- Link’s Awakening has 11.54 million sales.
- Twilight Princess has 10 million sales.
- Phantom Hourglass and Spirit Tracks have 7.72 million sales.
- Skyward Sword has 7.58 million sales.
- A Link to the Past has 7.43 million sales.
- The original The Legend of Zelda has 7.29 million sales.
- The Wind Waker has 6.78 million sales.
- Majora’s Mask has 6.72 million sales.
- A Link Between Worlds and Tri Force Heroes has 5.57 million sales.
- Zelda II: The Adventure of Link has 4.97 million sales.
- Oracle of Seasons and Oracle of Ages have 3.99 million sales.
- Minish Cap has 1.76 million sales.
- Four Swords Adventures has 0.75 million sales.
The popularity of the Legend of Zelda franchise is quite apparent when you take a look at the total number of games that it has sold over the years. Naturally, despite the initial wave of popularity being sparked by the older games, as technology advances and the graphical quality of games increases, the newer games are going to overshadow the previous ones in terms of sales, as you can see from the total number of sales Breath of the Wild has.
Breath of the Wild had almost 100 concept designs for Link.
- The developers wanted to take a step away from the core conventions of the series.
- One of the Link designs featured him riding a motorcycle, and another one used an electric guitar as a weapon.
- One of the gameplay elements of Hyrule that were pitched included UFOs that abduct different units, like cattle.
Having a fresh perspective on things is a great way for companies to change the way their games are perceived. As an example of these practices, consider the drastic change in direction in the God of War games, where they went from one gameplay style to another in favor of a deeper story and character development, and that led to excellent reception and stellar performance on the market. The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild did the same thing, wherein the base nature of the game is the same but the gameplay has been revamped for modern audiences.
Breath of the Wild sold 40% of its copies in the United States.
(Source: VG Chartz)
- 33% of copies were sold in Europe.
- 16% of copies were sold in Japan.
The Nintendo Switch was a massive success when it had just come out, and the leading game for the console was The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild. This game was the perfect way for Nintendo to show off the prowess of the Nintendo Switch, and the popularity it gained was notably centralized in the United States, then in Europe.
A sealed copy of the original Legend of Zelda was sold for $870,000.
(Source: The Verge)
- It was sold at Heritage Auctions and beat the previous record for the most expensive game sold.
- The game was valued at $49.99 retail in 1986 when it was released for the first time.
- This is a 1739900% increase in price over the years.
- The previous auctioned game with the highest value was a copy of Super Mario Bros, valued at $660,000.
The fact that the value of video games and pop fiction memorabilia increases over time is no surprise but you can’t help but raise your eyebrows when you see a 16-bit game generate nearly one million dollars from a single sale. Time is an interesting thing for video games and the reason the original Legend of Zelda fetched such a high price is the fame it gained during its long time on the market. This is just another testament to the sheer quality of the Legend of Zelda franchise and all of its accomplishments.
The original Legend of Zelda sold 1 million copies on release.
- The Legend of Zelda and Super Mario Bros. played an integral role in reviving the gaming industry after its crash in 1983.
- After the release of The Legend of Zelda, the gaming industry was fundamentally changed for the better and it has only been improving since then.
- Since its release, The Legend of Zelda has sold over 7 million copies.
Massive strides in the gaming industry come every now and then, and the period from 1983 to 1986 when The Legend of Zelda was released was the biggest one by far. When The Legend of Zelda was released, it ushered in a new age of gaming, where games have substance and stories that can easily suck you in and keep you there for hours on end. Since then, the series has sold over 100 million copies of its games and it has become something that a vast majority of gamers can recognize immediately.
9 out of 10 Switch owners bought Breath of the Wild with the Switch.
(Source: Nintendo Life)
- The Nintendo Switch’s sales have decreased by 19.2%, totaling 6.8 million sales in 2022.
- The Nintendo Switch is in third place for most Nintendo consoles sold.
- The Game Boy sold 118.69 million units.
- The Nintendo DS sold 154.02 million units.
And for the final line of stats, we have some additional info regarding the console that lead the release of Nintendo’s most successful Zelda game: Breath of the Wild. You can really see the popularity of Breath of the Wild because a vast majority of Switch owners bought the game together with the console, and many claimed that it was a good decision.
To sum up
And that would be all we have to say about The Legend of Zelda and the notable achievements it has accumulated over the years. When you have a franchise that has been around as long as The Legend of Zelda, it is understandable that it is going to remain a cult classic for a very long time. 29 games and many consoles later, The Legend of Zelda franchise is still going strong, and with The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild 2 coming out in 2023, it is sure to further boost the franchise to new and exciting heights. We sincerely hope that you have enjoyed the information we have provided and that all of your questions have been answered!
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- “The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom’ is already breaking records”. CNN, 2023, https://edition.cnn.com/2023/05/20/entertainment/legend-of-zelda-tears-of-kingdom-cec/
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- “The Legend of Zelda: The Breath of the Wild Sells an Estimated 1.49 Million Units First Week at Retail – Sales”. VGChartz, 2017, https://www.vgchartz.com/article/267846/the-legend-of-zelda-the-breath-of-the-wild-sells-an-estimated-149-million-units-first-week-at-retail/
- “Breath of the Wild – 19 Fascinating Facts From The Game’s Development”. IGN, 2022, https://www.ign.com/articles/zelda-breath-of-the-wild-development-five-year-anniversary-fascinating-facts
- “A sealed copy of The Legend of Zelda just sold for nearly a million dollars”. The Verge, 2021, https://www.theverge.com/2021/7/9/22570401/legend-of-zelda-nes-sealed-copy-heritage-auctions-most-expensive-game
- “When ‘The Legend of Zelda’ First Released, It Sold 1 Million Copies in 1 Day on NES, According to Nintendo”. CheatSheet, 2022, https://www.cheatsheet.com/entertainment/when-the-legend-of-zelda-first-released-sold-1-million-copies-1-day-nes-according-nintendo.html/
- “Nintendo Switch has sold 1.5m worldwide – SuperData”. GamesIndustry, 2017, https://www.gamesindustry.biz/nintendo-switch-has-sold-1-5m-worldwide-superdata
- “The Nintendo Switch Has Exceeded 114 Million Units Sold”. NintendoLife, 2022, https://www.nintendolife.com/news/2022/11/the-nintendo-switch-has-exceeded-114-million-units-sold