Nintendo announced today that their new president will be Tatsumi Kimishima. In the same press conference, they also announced a “large-scale revision of the organizational structure.” As part of this, Shigeru Miyamoto and Genyo Takeda are getting new job titles.
In July, Nintendo’s last president, Satoru Iwata, passed away from cancer at the age of 55. Iwata was one of the most beloved figures in the video game industry, so Nintendo was wise to take its time with this decision. Kimishima has big shoes to fill.
But who is Kimishima? And what does this restructuring mean?
Tatsumi Kimishima, 65, has been working in video games for just 15 years. He started his career as a banker. In 2000, he was hired on at The Pokémon Company as their representative director. Two years later, he became the president of Nintendo of America. He was succeeded in 2006 by Reggie Fils-Aimé, the current president of Nintendo of America. Since then, Kimishima has served as a chairman and CEO at Nintendo of America and has been in a charge of Human Resources at Nintendo.
Nintendo has stressed that the basic strategies and policies put in place during Iwata’s presidency will remain intact.
Nintendo’s choice for its next president is somewhat surprising. For one, Kimishima is 65—retirement age. Nintendo has only had four presidents in its 126-year history (Kimishima will be number five), so you can guess that they tend to fill the position for a long time.
For another thing, Iwata created a big public role for himself, appearing frequently in Nintendo Direct video presentations. But Kimishima, despite being a senior player at Nintendo, is not very well known. Even the above details of Kimishima’s life are kind of vague, with different online publications disagreeing with one another on his various official titles.
Polygon theorizes that Kimishima won’t be around for long, maybe not even five years. This actually makes a lot of sense. Nintendo is talking restructure, they’re getting ready for a big deal with mobile gaming company DeNA next year—we could be seeing some big adjustments at the company in the coming years. In their current financial state, it may be hard for them to plan 25 years ahead.
Plus, Nintendo has plenty of reasons to be fiscally conservative right now. Wii U sales have never been very good, despite recent successful games. We know almost nothing about Nintendo’s next console, codenamed “NX,” except that it has been described as a “brand-new concept.” Nintendo has famously pioneered motion-based gaming and dual-screen gaming, which were also new concepts when they hit the market. But they know from experience that investing in these new technologies involves financial risk. I still think that Satoru Shibata would have been the perfect choice as Iwata’s successor. Perhaps they’re saving him for later, after things have settled down a bit at HQ.
Nintendo’s announcements re: Shigeru Miyamoto and Genyo Takeda, both of whom have been serving as interim presidents, make perfect sense. Miyamoto will now have the title “Creative Fellow” and Takeda will serve as “Technology Fellow.” According to Nintendo, the newly established title of “Fellow” refers to 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.” This means that Miyamoto and Takeda will both have more freedom to advise Nintendo’s leadership, without having any specific projects weighing them down.
Shigeru Miyamoto is the creator of Mario, Zelda, Star Fox, Pikmin, and many other blockbuster Nintendo franchises. Genyo Takeda, meanwhile, has worked on Nintendo hardware for most of his career. He was one of the man creators of the Nintendo Wii. They’re both in their 60s and have a lot of experience with the company, so giving them this freedom is, I think, a great idea. I’m already picturing the Fellowship title as being kind of like “Vice President of the United States,” in that it’s really important, but that it doesn’t specifically dictate much in terms of day-to-day activities.
While things are settling down at Nintendo, we probably have more changes coming soon enough. For now, we’ll just have to wait and see.