When you do your best to build up a game for a long time in a mysterious way, you sometimes risk burning out your fanbase as they wait for new information on the game. Multiple titles have done that over the last few years, and a certain web-themed game is running the risk of doing that right now. But in the case of The Legend of Zelda Tears of the Kingdom, Nintendo was doing almost too good of a job maintaining its secrets before the game came out. This nearly backfired on them and led to, ironically, one of the most important things in its pre-launch hype.
You see, for years, gamers knew that the sequel was coming. However, it wasn’t until December that Tears of the Kingdom was truly unveiled, and more things were teased. The first trailer at the end of last year got people talking. But then, in February, during a Nintendo Direct, a sequel trailer dropped. While people did like the trailer overall, there was a problem. It didn’t really highlight anything new. Instead, it kept showing off the most basic things and didn’t really “pull back the curtain” to highlight what the game was about.
“Another hiccup came when the second trailer dropped in February, and the team noticed a lack of enthusiasm. People had not gotten their heads around the gameplay elements or where the fun might be.”
To counter this, Nintendo decided to do the now famous gameplay Direct for the title, which featured Aonuma going into the game and showing off 13 minutes of gameplay footage. The highlights were not only the looks at Hyrule’s vast realm but also the new abilities that Link could use.
It was here that we learned about the Ultrahand and Fuse abilities that would become the defining characteristics for the title. After gamers saw these in action and other abilities like Ascend, they knew that this game had lots of potential. Thus, the hype was back.
So what does this prove? Well, it proves that the “show, don’t tell” method doesn’t always apply when you have something rather complex. Sometimes you need to break things down for people so that they can see the value.
Nintendo was able to convey that value, given that the title sold over 10 million units in three days and has gotten near-perfect review scores across the board.