Breath of the Wild is by far the best-selling game on the Switch. Some have even suggested that the Switch has only sold so well because of Breath of the Wild. The majority of these sales for the game came from physical copies, and not downloads. This is a fact which Reggie Fils-Aime reflected on recently, and linked to the way players engage with Breath of the Wild.

Reggie stated that every Nintendo game “is different” and can be played differently depending on what  the “consumer wants to experience”. He gave the example of Mario Kart 8 Deluxe and that it’s “something that you always want to have on the device” because of the multiplayer appeal. Reggie claimed that when someone is out with their Switch, people are “eyeing your Nintendo Switch, eyeing those Joy-Con controllers” and expect them to have Mario Kart 8 Deluxe for the multiplayer experience. This obviously links to the Switch’s easy multiplayer access and relates to the competitive play trailer shown during the E3 spotlight.

Reggie contrasted that to Breath of the Wild and described it as “a one-on-one experience.” Due to the fact that it’s much more of a personal experience, it’s not “conducive to pop it down and to share a remote.” Reggie explained that people want to always be able to access a game like Mario Kart 8 Deluxe because it can be easily played on the go and with others, whereas Zelda is much more of a personal experience. Reggie thought that this was the reason “the digital percent is maybe a little bit different.”

Some gaming companies could be happy with good sales whether they’re physical copies or downloads. However, Reggie’s analysis of how Breath of the Wild was bought and played shows a dedication and commitment which is great to see. Nintendo have been putting much more of an emphasis on competitive play recently, and even have a dedicated Twitter account for it, but hopefully the company continue to focus on great solo experiences too.

How did you buy Breath of the WildI? Do you agree with Reggie’s comments?

  • Francisco Fernandes

    I bought a physical copy. I think Zelda fans cherish Zelda so much that buying a digital copy of the game is not so fulfilling that the touch of a physical copy.

  • P.5000

    I like to get physical copies of games I’m really excited for just because it feels more special that way.

    It just so happens that me and my mom might have bought the last physical copy in the city the day we went out to try and buy it XD

  • Frank

    Or because Zelda had special collector editions and mario kart doesn’t. Or maybe because Zelda takes the 1/3 or the switch memory. What a dumb reason

  • Skia1717

    More physical copies sold because a huge number of people bought the game before they could get their hands on the console because NINTENDO DIDN’T MAKE ENOUGH.

    • Linebyline

      It’s especially funny coming from the same company that singlehandedly saved the home video game industry after it crashed due in large part to another company making almost exactly that mistake.

  • David K.

    The only reason I bought a physical copy was the collectors edition. I live overseas and waited an extra month to play because of that. I’d have happily gone digital if I could have.

  • metalpants

    I only bought a physical copy because I wanted to have space in my internal memory for all the downloads I’m gonna make, and because I haven’t bought an SD Card yet. Also to make use of the cartridge drive and see how fast/effective it is and all that good stuff. Other than that, I’d much rather not have bought it in physical form. I hate filling up space with game cases and having to swap cartridges, lol. First world problems, amirite?

  • humulos

    This is actually exactly how I decide on physical vs digital. If it’s a multiplayer game, regardless of console, I download it

  • Carl Campbell

    Aren’t you supposed to like link to the interview or mention who did it for it to be considered valid journalism/reporting?

  • Linebyline

    Forgive my curmudgeonliness (yes, that’s a word) but my reason for preferring physical media is so I can actually have a copy of the game.

    For one thing, I don’t want to leave my console downloading all day and all night because not everyone can get high-speed Internet. Of course, this is becoming a moot point as the industry standard is to sell you a disc with a tiny little bit of game on it and make you download the rest anyway. So let’s set that aside.

    When you download a game to a Nintendo console/handheld, it is tied to that device. You can transfer it only by doing a system transfer. If you want to have a nice shiny 3DS you play at home and a tougher-to-break 2DS to toss in your backpack, a physical copy will let you play the same game on both. If you download your games, have fun buying them twice and please enjoy the excessive amount of work it takes to keep your save files synced. Same goes for taking your console games to a friend’s house to play (though with the Wii and WiiU you still have the save file problem).

    Even on other systems, which tie your games to your account (and unlike Nintendo, don’t lock your account to a single device of each type) don’t let you give away your games or leave them to your heirs. Your digital collection dies with you. If SNES games worked on that model, I wouldn’t even be a Zelda fan because my uncle would never have been able to give me his LttP cartridge all those years ago. I also couldn’t have gotten the experience of playing Mega Man X on its original console, decades after release, via eBay.

    I know, most people don’t care about this stuff. And even I’m willing to get a game digitally, every once in a while, if I can’t get a physical copy. For that matter, I’d love to just download games if I could get them without DRM and non-transferrable licenses, and if my Internet connection could handle it.

    But I still think the ability to do as you wish with with the copy that you bought and paid for (and which, despite EULAs saying “licensed, not sold,” are usually clearly marked as “purchases”) is something important that gamers shouldn’t be so quick to just let go of.