The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom has been an unmitigated success for Nintendo. Not only does it boast sky-high critical reviews, but it also has sold incredibly well, quickly becoming the fastest-selling game in franchise history. In many ways, this level of success could not have come without a delay in March 2022, but not for the reasons you might be assuming. Franchise producer Eiji Aonuma recently revealed that Tears of the Kingdom’s delay had nothing to do with the team not being able to meet the deadline. Instead, they withheld the game for a much more admirable reason.
Speaking with the Washington Post, Aonuma revealed that TotK has been content complete for quite some time. The team could have released the game back in March 2022 if they had wanted to, but they decided to delay for a year to give everything an extra layer or two of polish. Aonuma said the team needed “to make sure that everything in the game was 100 percent to our standards.” Most players will agree that Nintendo did exactly that.
Eiji Aonuma said when he announced in March 2022 a delay for Zelda Tears of the Kingdom, the game was pretty much complete.
The last year was spent on polish, making sure the wild physics of the game just work. https://t.co/jb2qlonWsO
— Gene Park (@GenePark) May 21, 2023
After all, even with the complex systems in place, particularly in terms of physics, Tears of the Kingdom shipped with relatively few bugs. In that way, the latest Zelda game is something of a marvel. We see all kinds of massive games ship full of bugs these days and TotK launched in a very stable state on a platform that most consider underpowered compared to PlayStation 5 or Xbox Series X/S. Pulling that off is probably impossible without the delay for polish, and that’s probably a lesson more publishers should take for Tears of the Kingdom’s launch.
Of course, that’s easier said than done. Not every game has the backing of a company as massive as Nintendo. That said, it’s clear that one of the reasons the company is so successful is that it gives its developers all the time they need to make a quality product. You have to wonder what games like Redfall or Forspoken would’ve looked like if those teams had been given an extra year to really hammer things out.