Nintendo has been hard at work on The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild for nearly five years now (with another nine months to go), and they've employed the biggest development team in Nintendo history to tackle the project. Over 100 people are currently working on the game, and over 300 people have lent a helping hand at some point in development.
Naturally, a game of this size requires a substantial budget. When asked about increasing development cycles and rising development costs, Nintendo executive and Zelda creator Shigeru Miyamoto revealed that Breath of the Wild needs to sell over 2 million copies to cover its development costs and begin turning a profit.
Question: I believe that the game industry's biggest problems are increasing development costs and the length of development. I'd like to hear from each director what their approach to this is.
Kimishima: Certainly, development costs have increased in the last 10 years. Let's have each director answer.
Takeda: We're using increases in productivity to make an appeal with the greatness of games instead of [hardware] performance.
Miyamoto: Breath of the Wild has over 100 staff, and over 300 people in the credits, spending over 5 years. Our current efforts will be helpful in the next production. The costs will be recovered by selling in large volumes, passing 2 million sales. A game is a hit in the domestic market if it reaches 300k sales, but we're targeting worldwide sales. Reviews on the Internet get around. Details get pointed out, so our staff is working more than is required.
Shinya Takahashi: By using resources made for Zelda on other software, we can make many compact titles. The last Brain Training sold a lot with small resources. We're doing lots of things to reduce development times like reusing game engines.
Judging both by the hype surrounding Breath of the Wild and by the sales of previous entries, the latest Zelda adventure should have no problem hitting that 2 million mark. As Miyamoto and Takahashi pointed out, Nintendo can also use assets from Breath of the Wild (like its physics engine, for example) on future titles, helping to cut development costs down the road.