Why Trump's Trade War Could Delay the 'Breath of the Wild 2' Release Date

A statement from Nintendo, Sony, and Microsoft explains how the new tariffs could hurt the video game industry.

In a rare joint-statement on June 17, Nintendo, Sony, and Microsoft joined forces to decry the Trump administration’s escalating trade dispute with China, arguing that new tariffs could stifle innovation, raise prices, and even delay the next-generation of video game consoles. What the statement doesn’t mention, however, is that Trump’s trade war could also lead to a delayed release date for one of the most anticipated games currently in development: The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild 2.

Nintendo already announced plans for a sequel to 2017’s Breath of the Wild during E3 2019, and while the game doesn’t yet have an official release date (or even a release year), the company often launches new Zelda games alongside each big console to increase sales.

The Legend of Zelda is one of the most iconic franchises Nintendo owns (maybe even bigger than Mario), and the release of each new game is a major event. When the Nintendo Switch first launched in 2017 alongside the original Breath of the Wild, people referred to the device as a $300 “Zelda machine.” Nintendo also used the same tactic while launching the Wii in 2010, delaying the release of The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess to boost console sales.

With Breath of the Wild 2 at least a year away and a next-generation Nintendo Switch also expected within the same release window, it’s logical to assume that history will repeat itself. But the Trump administration’s planned tariffs could throw a wrench in Nintendo’s plan, causing delays for the new Switch and, as a result, delaying the BotW sequel as well.

Nintendo Switch
'Breath of the Wild' launched with the Nintendo Switch in December 2017.

This might sound alarmist, but as the joint statement notes, “in 2018, over 96% of video game consoles imported into the United States were made in China.” The companies argue that new tariffs will cut into their profits, forcing them to raise prices for new games and consoles. It could even lead to layoffs, which would “hinder or delay technological innovation,” meaning, less money for R&D. Basically, it could push back the release of new video game consoles and increase their price once they do launch.

In the companies’ own words:

“Microsoft, Nintendo, and [Sony Interactive Entertainment] collectively invest billions of dollars in research and development in the U.S. to develop and deliver inventive consoles and next-generation technology to our customers. Microsoft, for instance, has over 2,000 issued and pending U.S. patents for innovations originally created for gaming. Instituting tariffs would lead to reduced [research and development] investment, as console makers scale back on revolutionary new technologies.”

The new Nintendo Switch is expected to represent a pretty big improvement over the current model. So unless these companies are bluffing, increased tariffs courtesy of President Donald Trump will likely mean a delay in the next-gen consoles release. And if Nintendo sticks with its presumed plan of releasing Breath of the Wild 2 alongside a new console, that means we’ll be waiting even longer than we thought for the BotW sequel’s release date.