Why Nintendo chose Tatsumi Kimishima to be their new CEO and not Genyo Takeda or Shigeru Miyamoto

Kimishima

Today Nintendo Co Ltd. announced that, former Nintendo of America CEO, Tatsumi Kimishima will be the new CEO of the house of Mario. It’s an interesting decision, to say the least. Many people, including myself, thought that they were going to stick with Genyo Takeda who has been leading the company (together with Shigeru Miyamoto) ever since Satoru Iwata passed away.

Takeda would have been the obvious choice. He is the general manager of Nintendo’s integrated research division, and was, in that outfit responsible, for producing the Nintendo Wii. He also created the Punch-Out!! and StarTropics series. He is a hands-on kind of guy, just like Iwata was, and is credited to be the creator of both the analogue stick and the cartridge battery back which made it possible for NES cartridges to keep save data after the console was turned off (which was first used in Miyamoto’s The Legend of Zelda). Creations which are still very relevant today (could you imagine playing a 3D console game without the analogue stick today? Neither can I). Also just like Iwata, he grew into different management positions as the years went by.

Punch-Out StarTropics

Then why didn’t Nintendo choose Takeda? Well, there’s the language aspect, of course. As far as I know, Takeda’s English is not on the same level as that of Iwata (nor is Miyamoto’s, for the record), meaning that he probably wouldn’t put himself as much in the Western limelight as Iwata did with his Nintendo Direct series of announcements, meaning that in the eye of the beholder Nintendo would once again become this faceless Japanese giant that doesn’t speak your language, nor understands you… which, of course, wouldn’t be good for sales in the Western market. Also, in this respect, I expect that, for a company whose profits are quite dependent of its international successes, having a president who doesn’t speak the international language par excellence is a bit of a hard sell for shareholders as well.

One of Nintendo’s biggest current issues is that, while it has been doing quite well in Japan these last few years, it has been struggling to generate that same interest in the West, and especially in the Americas – although Amiibo are a huge success in the States. Choosing for a president and CEO with a similar track record as his predecessor and whom may have limited knowledge of the West and of the Western market, would probably not change anything to this situation.

Enter Tatsumi Kimishima whom was not only the CEO of Nintendo of America from 2002 until 2006, but whom has lived – and still lives – in the States for more than half of his life (he is currently 65). Unlike many of Nintendo’s other big names, Kimishima wasn’t with Nintendo from the beginning. He joined the company in 2000 after having worked for 27 years at Sanwa Bank of Japan where he was, among other, responsible for corporate planning and international business development. Also unlike many of Nintendo’s other big names, Kimishima didn’t start out as a developer. When he joined the company in 2000 he became the Chief Financial Officer for the Pokémon Company, after which he quickly became the president of Pokémon USA Inc. in 2001.

Satoru Iwata, president of Nintendo Co., center right, speaks as Tatsumi Kimishima, managing director, listens during a news conference in Osaka, Japan, on Wednesday, Oct. 29, 2014. Nintendo posted second-quarter profit that beat analyst estimates, helped by a weaker yen that boosted the value of overseas sales and demand for new games including Super Smash Bros. and Mario Kart 8. Photographer: Yuzuru Yoshikawa/Bloomberg *** Local Caption *** Satoru Iwata; Tatsumi Kimishima

Kimishima will be a very different president than Iwata was or than Takeda or Miyamoto would have been. He’s more of a numbers guy, less of a hands on guy. That’s not necessarily a problem. Miyamoto and Takeda will still be there advising him in this respect – as can be learned from the press release – while he makes sure the shareholders are happy. Also, Kimishima probably knows more of the Western market than any other Nintendo employee from Japanese descent. That may be a good thing, but not necessarily either. One of the main reasons I love Nintendo is because their products are so different from what Western companies produce. On the other hand, if Kimishima finds a way to actually attract a bigger audience for Nintendo and still lets them produce these unique experiences, I’m all for it.

Will the appointment of Kimishima lead to a new golden age for Nintendo? It’s hard to say. For, one it’s hard for an outsider to judge what actual power the new president and CEO will have. What power remains with Miyamoto and Takeda after Kimishima becomes the new president and CEO. His knowledge of the Western market may indeed entice Nintendo to walk an new path, but given Kimishima’s age (65) it may well be that he is a transitionary president who’s there to fill in the void left by Iwata’s unexpected passing, until the next generation is ready to take over. Then again, what’s to stop Kimishima from ruling Nintendo for the next decade or so?

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2015 Most Wanted (Post-E3 Edition)

(5) Super Mario Maker (WiiU): the first “endless” Mario platform game, and thankfully it’s not an “endless runner” game – although you probably will be able to create your own “endless runner game” in this game. Indeed, Super Mario Maker, is the big N’s answer to the success of Microsoft’s Minecraft and Sony’s Little Big Planet series. You’ll be able to create your own Mario themed levels and share them with the entire world – or at least share them with those 10 million people in the world that own a WiiU. Not much of a creator yourself, and not in the mood to play random people’s crappy levels? There are also about 100 official levels created by Nintendo, making it one of the most content rich 2D Mario games to date, included in the package. Best thing about Super Mario Maker? It’s releasing the day after tomorrow!

European release date: September 11th

Super Mario Maker

(4) Persona 5 (PS3/PS4): what was one of the most niche Japanese RPG series has now become… Well, the Persona series, is still quite niche to be honest, but it has been attracting a wider audience these last few years with the releases of Persona 3 Portable on PlayStation Portable and Persona 4 Golden on PlayStation Go.. I mean.. VITA. Like its predecessors, Persona 5  will be part dating sim (okay, it’s not exactlya dating sim, but “social link game” doesn’t sound right either), part turn-based RPG. More precisely, you’ll once again play as a Japanese high school student that goes to school, makes friends, lives a normal life on regular days, but whom is also able to link with weird looking creatures (called persona) for battles in some sort of altered dimension. Still wondering why the series is somewhat niche? If you do, Persona 5, will be right up your alley!

European release date: 2015

Persona 5

(3) Rise of the Tomb Raider (X360/XONE): 2013’s Tomb Raider reboot was a big success, both critically (what cannot be said about the novelized sequel) and financially (although publisher Square-Enix wasn’t that happy with the initial sales). It was an epic action adventure game staring Lara Croft (whom, of course, needs no introduction) with high production values and a more than decent story – from the hand of Rhianna Pratchett. Rise of the Tomb Raider promises to be more of the same… More of the same, but covered in snow, that is. And, honestly, who wouldn’t want to see that? Winter is coming… a bit early this year, since the game is said to release in November already.

European release date: November 13th
Rise of the Tomb Raider

(2) Fallout 4 (PC/PS4/XONE): Fallout 2 is one of my favorite games of all time. It’s an isometric action RPG. Fallout 3 was quite a different game (a first person shooter/RPG), but was still one of the best games on the previous generation of consoles. Fallout 4 look a lot like Fallout 3 (it’s also a first person shooter/RPG), which is not a bad thing necessarily – otherwise it wouldn’t be ranked number 2 on this list. You’ll once again play as a person (you’ll get to choose between a man and a woman, like you could in Fallout 2!) that spent the most of their life sheltered in a vault because of the fallout (hence the title, duh) created by the nuclear war that destroyed the world, but whom now needs to leave said vault for some or other reason. After having explored the wastelands of Washington and New Vegas, this time we’ll get to explore the wastes of Boston. I’ll send you a postcard to tell you about my trip!

European release date: November 10th

Fallout 4

(1) Xenoblade Chronicles X (WiiU): Xenoblade Chronicles X is the only game to survive the previous Most Wanted list (two games on the previous list were moved to 2016, two others have already been released) and, yes, it’s still the game releasing this year which I’m looking forward to the most. Here’s what I wrote previously:

First there was Final Fantasy VII for the original Playstation. Then there was Fallout 3 for the Playstation 3. On the third day God gave us Xenoblade Chronicles for the Nintendo Wii, and he saw that it was good. More than good actually. It was amazing. The first Xenoblade Chronicles is not only regarded to be one of the best Japanese roleplaying games of the previous generation of consoles. It is also my favorite game of all time. Expectations for its HD follow-up are… high, to say the least. The new game will boast an even larger over world with even bigger monsters to fight, will give us the chance to cross said world in mech-suits, and generally promises to be the biggest sci-fi opera/fantasy RPG to date. Plus, the trailer that revealed that Monolith Soft’s mysterious game (X) was actually Xenoblade Chronicles X, alsorevealed the Nopon race to be in this game as well. Meaning we’ll probably get to be called the ‘heropon’ once more. Cannot wait to spend a 100+ hours on this game!

What I wrote then (mostly) still holds up today. Expectations may be a bit less high, because of some mixed reactions about the online features in the game coming from Japan (where the game has already been released), but they’re still high. Still cannot wait to spend 100+ hours on this game!

European release date: December 4th

Xenoblade Chronicles X