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Legend of Zelda revived in a bid to breathe new life into Nintendo

Attendees wait in line to play video games on Nintendo Switch game consoles during the new console's unveiling in Tokyo on Jan. 13, 2017.
Kiyoshi Ota | Bloomberg | Getty Images
Attendees wait in line to play video games on Nintendo Switch game consoles during the new console's unveiling in Tokyo on Jan. 13, 2017.

Nintendo announced the launch of its new Switch console with its flagship game, "The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild", set to be released at the same time in an attempt to boost sales.

Japanese gaming franchise Nintendo embarks upon a make-or-break period when the Switch launches in March as the company that once ruled the video gaming industry struggles to maintain its prestige.

"Zelda is not the biggest selling game of all time but it's a title that gamers love and so its release will generate a lot of hype and expectation. They had to launch with something compelling and unique and clearly Zelda is very important for the Nintendo faithful," Piers Harding-Rolls, head of game research at IHS Technology, told CNBC by phone on Friday.


Uphill task

Nintendo shares closed 5.75 percent lower on Friday, which wiped $1.5 billion off the company's value, as investors cited disappointment over the device's high price. The new Nintendo Switch is set to cost gamers in the U.S. $299.99 though prices in Europe and the U.K. could vary.

The pricing of the console is slightly higher than the rumored levels of $200-250 making the Nintendo Switch more expensive than that of its fierce rivals, Sony's PlayStation 4 and Microsoft's Xbox One S.

"IHS Markit expects Switch to comfortably outsell the Wii U but Nintendo faces an uphill task to translate its product vision into mainstream adoption although it will be aided in this ambition through its deep portfolio of games franchises," Harding-Rolls said in a note.

"The Legend of Zelda" is the first title to make its debut on the Nintendo Switch with "Splatoon 2" and "Super Mario Odyssey" to be released later in 2017. Nintendo has not yet specified the dates for these releases.

Nintendo's disappointment with the launch of its previous console, the Wii U, would not want to be replicated and it appears Japan's video gaming giant has sought to amend its market strategy.

Third party video game titles such as FIFA and SkyRim are now available on the Switch when previously Nintendo had been loyal to its own franchises.

"The Wii U was an attempt to make an incremental change and retain the successes of the past but we know this does not work. Creating something unique is what usually proves to be very successful and so we will have to wait and see if the Switch can deliver," Neil Campling, head of global technology, media and telecom research at Northern Trust Capital Markets, told CNBC by phone.