Two months ago, the gaming world was shaken by the sudden passing of Nintendo CEO and President, Satoru Iwata. Since then, Shigeru Miyamoto and Genyo Takeda have been jointly running the company, trying their best to honor Mr. Iwata’s wishes and direction. Over the past few months, many have speculated that Nintendo would appoint one of the two into the position and role of President. That isn’t the case, however. Nintendo announced yesterday that Tatsumi Kimishima is now the new president of Nintendo.
While some may not know who he is, Kimishima, who is 65, has a history of leadership positions at Nintendo and other companies. In 2000, he was appointed Chief Financial Officer of the Pokemon Company and became president of Pokemon USA Inc. in 2001. In 2002, he became president of Nintendo of America after Minoru Arakawa stepped down. In 2006, when Reggie Fils-Aime became president, he moved to the position of CEO and oversaw the very successful launch and life of the Wii. In 2013, Satoru Iwata took his position as CEO of Nintendo of America, and he was promoted to Managing Director of Nintendo Co., Ltd.
Previous to his work at Nintendo, Tatsumi Kimishima worked for Sanwa Bank of Japan for 27 years and was posted in Central America, the Caribbean, and several offices in the U.S. Needless to say, he has a history of holding leadership positions and having quite a bit of success.
Since the announcement, there have been many skeptics of him taking over. Much of this is due to his age and the fact that, while he may be a businessman, he was never a game designer. That skepticism should be put to rest, however, thanks to an article from Nikkei that had key points translated on twitter by Serkan Toto, a consultant with Tokyo-based Kantan Games Inc. One such post claims Mr. Kimishima thinks it’s wrong to lead a gaming company on numbers alone.
3) Despite his business background, he is quoted as saying it’s wrong to lead a gaming company on numbers alone.
That statement alone tells us a lot about his way of thinking, especially in an age of companies making decisions entirely based around numbers, causing rifts with both their developers and fans alike. Also in the interview with Nikkei, Mr. Kimishima said that he wasn’t Mr. Iwata’s favorite choice, saying that Mr. Iwata was looking for somebody younger; but they didn’t have the personnel to fit that role. He also didn’t receive instructions from Mr. Iwata, which is to be expected as Mr. Iwata wasn’t prepping him to run the company. He did say, though, that Nintendo will continue the new strategy that Mr. Iwata started.
Despite only having experience only on the business side of things and not being Iwata’s first pick, he did have the foresight to see that the Wii U wasn’t going to do well.
2) According to the Nikkei, Kimishima predicted Wii U’s failure when it was introduced by warning it’s too similar to the original Wii.
He also noted that his term is for one year, and he isn’t against an outsider leading Nintendo. He even quoted Genyo Takeda, saying that they want to future-proof Nintendo’s leadership. These could be the reasons for the massive restructure of the company, accompanied by the announcement of his presidency.
Shigeru Miyamoto and Genyo Takeda are no longer general managers of EAD and IRD. Mr. Miyamoto’s new title is “Creative Fellow” and Mr. Takeda’s new title is now “Technology Fellow.” These positions are newly-made specifically for them and let them oversee entire areas of development. For these positions, a fellow is described as follows:
Fellow: An individual selected from among the Representative Directors who has advanced knowledge and extensive experience, and holds the role of providing advice and guidance regarding organizational operations in a specialized area.
Other major changes have been made as well. Nintendo’s Integrated Research & Development Division (Nintendo IRD) and System Development Division have been combined and are now the Platform Technology Development Division. The new division will handle the development of hardware, operating systems, network infrastructure, and development tools. The former Deputy General Manager of Nintendo IRD, Ko Shiota, will oversee the newly-formed division.
Nintendo’s main game development branches, the Entertainment Analysis & Development Division (Nintendo EAD) and the Software Planning & Development Division, have been merged as well; they are now the Entertainment Planning & Development Division. The former General Manager of the Software Planning & Development Division, Shinya Takahashi, will oversee this new division.
Another major change is that Nintendo created a new branch named the Business Development Division. They’re responsible for “refining the business model for the dedicated video game system business” and also overseeing Nintendo’s newer ventures, such as their IP licensing and smart phone plans.
The announcement of the new leadership and company restructuring comes in time for the holiday season, when Nintendo’s sales will be at their largest. According to the article with Nikkei, Nintendo makes 50% of their profits during the holidays. Hopefully, things work out well for Nintendo now that they have new leadership and a new structure. My best wishes to you, Mr. Kimishima.