The ‘Unfair’ Price of Tears of the Kingdom Isn’t That Surprising if You Stop to Think About It

Let's face the facts.

by Kara Phillips

After the success of The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild on Nintendo Switch, it’s not surprising that its successor, The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom, has been of the most highly anticipated first-party releases from Nintendo for the last five years. Having been nominated for “Most Anticipated Game” for 2020, 2021, and 2022, alongside a constant discourse within the Zelda community to debate any potential features of the game while dissecting any trailers, it’s safe to say players’ commitment to the franchise is undying.

But, despite its anticipation and the excitement surrounding its release date following the Nintendo Direct in September 2022, the recent trailer and listing on the eShop (alongside various retailers) have caused quite a stir in the community. Of course, the anticipation of a game is what drives so many players to pre-order a title, especially so far in advance of its launch, but with Tears of the Kingdom, a lot of players are planning to pre-order the game and being met with an unexpected price tag. Since Nintendo has been relatively consistent in pricing its first-party releases, this has come as quite a shock, but is it worth the upset?


Tears of the eShop

The standard price of a first-party Nintendo game is $59.99, so it’s a slight shock to see Tears of the Kingdom listed for $69.99 before its launch, but if you take a step back to think about the price, you’ll start to realize it’s not actually that surprising. Despite the Nintendo Switch being a few generations behind the capabilities of next-gen gaming, to keep up with current-gen standards, there are bound to be some compromises — and price is the first point of call.

Of course, players immediately jump to assume that the publisher can get away with increasing its price tag due to the anticipation of the game, and people will still pay for it. While that may be the case, this isn’t the first time it’s happened from a major publisher in the last year, but I’d say it’s the first time it’s caused such a stir. Microsoft and Sony have increased the price of their first-party releases to $69.99, and when God of War: Ragnarok hit shelves for $69.99 in November, no one hesitated to pay the price. Why are things so different for Tears of the Kingdom, arguably Nintendo’s most significant release of 2023?

The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild is continuously praised as one of the greatest games on Nintendo Switch, and it maintains its high reign even when compared to current-day first-party games on the console. It’s a perfect example of what the Nintendo Switch can do without the need for high-definition 4K graphics or 120FPS gameplay, and most players will argue that it’s worth every cent. So, it’s expected that Tears of the Kingdom, a game that’s been in the works for five years, will offer the same experience and hopefully receive the same return.


Is This the New Norm?

But most of the issue players are having with the price hike is how Nintendo hasn’t addressed it once, especially since Pikmin 4 is listed as $59.99 and is another first-party release expected in 2023. However, in an email to Polygon, a Nintendo representative stated, “We determine the suggested retail price for any Nintendo game on a case-by-case basis.” and confirmed that the $69.99 tag wouldn’t be a consistent thing. But, given the rising cost of most games, it’s pretty easy to assume that the new price will be more common than not for games as highly sought after.

In the few trailers we’ve seen of the game, there are a lot of parallels between Breath of the Wild, so it’s almost a given that the same enchantment of walking up in Hyrule will carry across to Tears of the Kingdom. Players are already speaking about it as if it’s Nintendo’s most important launch since the release of the Nintendo Switch, which is only expected to continue, so even despite its price, it’s still in circulation, which will eventually twist the arms of curious players refusing to pay.

So while there’s still a lot to learn about Tears of the Kingdom, it’s worth considering how much you valued your time with Breath of the Wild before jumping to conclusions about why this sudden price increase has reared its head. There’s no denying it’s a shock when compared to the average cost of a first-party game, but when taking the current digital climate into account, alongside the time and effort that has gone into perfecting the game rather than releasing it for cheaper, sooner, and unfinished, it was bound to happen sooner or later. Let’s hope it lives up to the expectations.

The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom will be available on Nintendo Switch on May 12, 2023.

- This article was updated on February 10th, 2023