Speaking with IGN, Nintendo explained why it considers The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild an open air game rather than an open world one.
“I think within the game industry or the tech industry, there’s a tendency to want to name everything,” Miyamoto said. “But I think it’s important for what we do that we don’t want to be dependent or swayed by the technology and what’s available now.
“We want to use the technology and the techniques that are available to make what we want to make,” he continued. “What’s important is to really express how we use that to make our experience unique. We didn’t want to just make a game where you can do anything, but we wanted to make sure that we make a game where the player is able to do anything, but it’s also a form of entertainment. It’s fun to do all of those things.”
Miyamoto said he proffered the term ‘open air’, as conceived by Nintendo’s Senior Product Marketing Manager, Bill Trinen.
“From my perspective, I look at a lot of open world games,” Trinen said, “and the world is a setting for the story the developers want to tell in that space.
“I look at this game and I see a world that is fully integrated into the exploration and the adventure. It’s not just a world that you’re passing through. It’s sort of a world that you’re a part of. So much of the adventure and exploration is in this outdoor space, and the theme of wilderness collectively seemed like ‘Open Air’ was the right fit for it.”
The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild heads to Nintendo NX and Wii U next year.