Nintendo are working on a Legend of Zelda mobile game, according to the Wall Street Journal.
An unnamed source told the WSJ that the title is being co-developed by Japanese developer DeNa. The new game will reportedly follow Animal Crossing, which is due for release before March 2018.
Originally when Nintendo announced their first steps into mobile gaming, they intended to release five games before March 2017. Whilst this hasn’t worked out quite as promised, it makes a great deal of sense that Zelda could be the fifth title after Miitomo, Super Mario Run, Fire Emblem Heroes and the upcoming Animal Crossing. Zelda is one of Nintendo’s most iconic franchises, and they may seek to build on the success of Breath of the Wild or appeal to nostalgic fans who played the NES, N64 or early handheld titles.
Shigeru Miyamoto has previously confirmed that their five game plan had been updated due to, “market conditions and the development process for each title,” which has led to one game being removed from that window. Tatsumi Kimishima, the company’s president, recently stated they would be releasing two to three mobile games per year, which means even if Animal Crossing is delayed until 2018 we should soon be hearing more about a second 2018 title.
The WSJ doesn’t go into detail about the game, its design or which price model it will conform to. Super Mario Run received backlash for its premium price tag, but was also critically acclaimed for the quality of gameplay compared to traditional endless runners. Fire Emblem Heroes on the other hand was a popular free-to-play release using a micro-transaction system, whereby players could unlock the game’s fire orbs faster by using real-world money. Animal Crossing mobile will reportedly follow the latter model, but the new Zelda mobile game could go either way.
Nintendo and DeNa declined to comment on the idea of a Zelda mobile game. If the rumours are true, it’s possible we may hear more about the game at the Nintendo Direct for E3 2017, but the company may want to focus on their new console.
Nintendo have already confirmed a stream on 13th June showcasing upcoming Switch games, followed by a Treehouse Live event showing off more Switch and 3DS titles.
Whilst it is possible we’ll also get a mobile gaming announcement, it seems likely this will be reserved for a separate Nintendo Direct later in the year.