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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The future of Nintendo: what’s to come after Spring 2016 (7)

In this series of articles I look at what Nintendo will most likely deliver after Spring 2016. Of course I do not have a crystal ball, so what I will be presenting here are just some educated guesses about what Nintendo’s (affiliated) studios are most likely to be working on right now.

Next up: other Nintendo partners (Ambrella, Arzest, Bandai Namco, Chunsoft, Good-Feel, Grezzo, indieszero and Jupiter)

AMBRELLA

Developer Latest game Release date Other games and projects Next game
Ambrella Pokémon Rumble World April 2015 Pokémon Rumbe series

Pokémon Dash

New Pokémon Rumble

Pokémon Rumble World

What are they working on?

Since Ambrella have only worked on Pokémon Rumble games since 2009, chaces are that they just started developing the next one for the next generation of Nintendo hardware.

What does this mean for WiiU?

With the release of Pokémon Rumble U in 2013 we have probably seen all of Ambrella’s work for Nintendo WiiU.

ARZEST

Developer Latest game Release date Other games and projects Next game
Arzest Yoshi’s New Island March 2014 Wii Play Motion

Streetpass Mii Plaza

(?) Terra Battle

Yoshi's New Island

What are they working on?

Yoshi’s New Island wasn’t received very well by critics and fans of the series. As such it is most likely that Arzest has not received a new project from Nintendo.

Arzest did work with Mistwalker on Terra Battle, so if that game would make it to WiiU (highly unlikely) we will still see some of Arzest work on a Nintendo platform. For now, however, they seem to be focusing on smartphone games, with Boost Beast planned to release this year.

 

What does this mean for WiiU?

Mistwalker’s Terra Battle on WiiU? Not very likely.

BANDAI NAMCO

Developer Latest game Release date Other games and projects Next game
Bandai Namco Ace Combat: Assault Horizon Legacy Plus February 2015 Mario Baseball series

Mario Kart Arcade series

Donkey Konga series

Project X Zone series

Pac-Man series

Disney Magic Castle series

Tekken series

Ridge Racer series

Tales of series

One Piece series

Star Fox Assault

Project X Zone 2

Project Treasure

Pokkén Tournament

Ace_Combat_Assault_Horizon_Legacy_+_(EU)

What are they working on?

Bandai Namco is working with Sora Ltd. On DLC for Nintendo’s Super Smash Bros for WiiU and Super Smash Bros for 3DS.

Bandai Namco are developing Pokkén Tournament, a crossover between Pokémon and Tekken, for Arcades. This game may still come to WiiU in 2016. They are also developing Project Treasure, a free-to-play multiplayer action game for WiiU which is also set to release in 2016.

Bandai Namco are working on at least two titles for Nintendo 3DS. Disney Magic Castle 2 and Project X Zone 2 (which they develop together with Monolith Soft) should both release in 2016 as well.

No titles from their other big series are known to be in development for Nintendo platforms at the moment, although it is very likely that Ganbarion is working on One Piece Unlimited: World BLUE, which may also come to Nintendo platforms.

 

What does this mean for WiiU?

Bandai Namco is still developing DLC for Super Smash Bros for WiiU. With Project Treasure set to release in 2016 and the possibility of Pokkén tournament and a new One Piece game releasing on WiiU in 2016 as well, Bandai Namco has all but abandoned WiiU development. Sadly they won’t be publishing Project C.A.R.S on WiiU, since the studio that developed the title was unable to get it to work on Nintendo’s console.

SPIKE CHUNSOFT

Developer Latest game Release date Other games and projects Next game
Spike Chunsoft Attack on Titan: Humanity in Chains July 2015 Pokémon Mystery Dungeon series

Wii Play: Motion

StreetPass Mii Plaza

Zero Escape series

Pokémon Super Mystery Dungeon

Attack on Titan

What are they working on?

Spike Chunsoft are in charge of the Pokémon Mystery Dungeon series. The next installment in the series (Pokémon Super Mystery Dungeon) will be released next year.
Spike Chunsoft has also started working on Zero Escape 3 for Nintendo 3DS, the third game in the series, after 999 and Virtue’s Last Reward. They game will be released in 2016

What does this mean for WiiU?

Spike Chunsoft does not develop games for Nintendo WiiU.

GOOD-FEEL

Developer Latest game Release date Other games and projects Next game
Good-Feel Yoshi’s Woolly World June 2015 Wario Land: Shake It!

Kirby’s Epic Yarn

Wii Play: Motion

StreetPass Mii Plaza

Mario & Luigi: Dream Team

(?) New Wario Land

Yoshi's Woolly World

What are they working on?

With 97 employees Good-Feel has become quite the studio. It is, however, unlikely that their next game will still be released on WiiU, though not impossible. Development on Yoshi’s Woolly World has been finished for a while now, and Good-Feel has expressed their willingness to develop a new Wario Land game. With their track record, Nintendo may just grant them their wish.

Good-Feel has also made some smaller mini-games that are part of larger compilations or are part of another game (they did the giant battles for Mario & Luigi: Dream Team). It is possible that they one of their new mini-games releases before their next big platform game.

What does this mean for WiiU?

A Wario Land game may still be in development for WiiU, but a lot depends on when development for the game started. If they just recently begun working on it, chances are that it will end up on NX.

GREZZO

Developer Latest game Release date Other games and projects Next game
Grezzo The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask 3D February 2015 The Legend of Zelda remakes

StreetPass Mii Plaza

Line Attack Heroes

(?) The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess remake

 Majora 3D

What are they working on?

Tokyo EAD 1 has mostly been working together with external developer Grezzo to remake several The Legend of Zelda games for Nintendo 3DS (Occarina of Time 3D, Four Swords Anniversary Edition and Majora’s Mask 3D).

Most likely they just started working together with Grezzo on another The Legend of Zelda remake, and the most likely contenders in that respect are: Twilight Princess HD (for WiiU) and Four Swords Adventures Anniversary (for New 3DS and WiiU). While the latter may seem the most feasible for the studio, fans have really been dreaming of a Twilight Princess remake ever since the tech demo shown at E3 2013. With some help of Kyoto EAD 3, it is not unlikely that Tokyo EAD1 is working on making this dream a reality together with Grezzo… but most likely for Nintendo NX.

Grezzo may, however, be working on remaking an entirely different N64 game for Nintendo 3DS.

What does this mean for WiiU?

Chances are small that Grezzo is working on a game for Nintendo WiiU. Most likely contender in that respect would be Four Swords Adventures Anniversary, which could release on both WiiU and (New) Nintendo 3DS.

INDIESZERO

Developer Latest game Release date Other games and projects Next game
indieszero Ultimate NEX Remix November 2014 NES Remix series

Nintendo 3DS Guide: Louvre

Theatrhythm series

DualPenSports

(?) Theatrhythm Dragon Quest

Ultimate NES Remix

What are they working on?

While Theatrhythm Dragon Quest was already released in Japan for Nintendo 3DS, it has not (yet) been announced for a Western release.  With Dragon Quest VII and VIII for Nintendo 3DS having been (somewhat) confirmed for Western release it is not unlikely that we will see the game come to Europe and the U.S. It is likely that indieszero is working on yet another Theatrhythm game.

Indieszero is also a known partner for Tokyo EAD 2. They have co-developed the NES Remix series and Nintendo 3DS Guide: Louvre. A SNES Remix may be in the works, and could still come to Nintendo WiiU.

 

What does this mean for WiiU?

Indieszero could be working on SNES Remix for WiiU.

JUPITER

Developer Latest game Release date Other games and projects Next game
Jupiter PICROSS e5 November 2014 PICROSS series

Pokémon Pinball series

Spectrobes series

The World ends with You

Kingdom Hearts: Chain of Memories

(?) PICROSS e6

Picross e5

What are they working on?

Jupiter is probably working on PICROSS e6, which may still release this year. (EDIT: it was released two weeks ago, well after I originally finished writing this piece. So that’s one good prediction. At the moment they’re probably working on PICROSS e7 which may come to 3DS in 2016).

The only non-PICROSS game they have made for the current generation of Nintendo systems is a Medabots game which released exclusively in Japan on Nintendo 3DS. While a new Pokémon Pinball game for Nintendo 3DS may be in the works, it does not seem very likely, since the series didn’t even appear on the immensely popular Nintendo DS.

Although Jupiter co-developed The World ends with You and Kingdom Hearts: Chain of Memories with Square Enix, they have not worked together with the publisher since the release of those two games.

 

What does this mean for WiiU?

Jupiter does not develop games for Nintendo WiiU.

 

The future of Nintendo: what’s to come after Spring 2016 (2)

E3 has come and gone and all the big players have made some exciting new announcements about their upcoming and future games. Unlike, for instance, Sony, Nintendo decided to focus on games they will be releasing in the coming year instead of in the coming years. For some (including myself) their digital E3 event was a bit underwhelming. Mostly because we already knew about most of their games that will release before the Spring of 2016. Especially when looking at WiiU.

In this series of articles I will look at what Nintendo will most likely deliver after Spring 2016. Of course I do not have a crystal ball, so what I will be presenting here are just some educated guesses about what Nintendo’s (affiliated) studios are most likely to be working on right now.

Next up: SPD 1, and SPD 2 and some of their third-party partners


SPD 1

Developer Latest game Release date Other games and projects Next game
SPD 1 Game & Wario

Rhythm Heaven: The Best Plus

June 2013

June 2015 (JP)

Rhythm Heaven series

Tomodachi series

WarioWare series

Metroid 2D series

(?) Rhythm Heaven: The Best Plus

Game & Wario

What are they working on?

SPD 1 usually co-develops (rhythm) games together with Intelligent Systems and TNX Music Recordings. With Intelligent Systems they work on the WarioWare series. With TNX Music Recording they work together on the Rhythm Heaven series. SPD 1 also develops games in the Tomodachi series. Because of the success of Tomodachi Life (the first entry in the series that was released overseas), SPD 1 is probably already working on a new entry in the Tomodachi series which will probably be released on the next handheld system (Fusion or not).

A new WarioWare should also be in development. Since Game&Wario wasn’t really a success (I’m being nice) the next WarioWare game will probably be for a handheld device, possibly still for the 3DS, but most likely for the next handheld system. Rhythm Heaven: The Best Plus just released in Japan last month. It may be localized for the Western market and if so, it should release around Summer 2016.

SPD 1 also co-produced (i.e. not co-developed) Metroid Other M. This happened when Yoshio Sakomoto (co-creator of Metroid) was still one of the main producers at SPD 1. He has now been promoted to Deputy Manager of SPD in general. Metroid Other M was mainly developed by third party developer Team Ninja (of Koei Tecmo) and was not very well received by Metroid fans. Chances of Team Ninja working on another 2.5 D Metroid game are slim. Because of Sakomoto’s promotion it is unsure whether another 2D Metroid game would be produced by SPD 1. It may as well be produced by another SPD group. Chances that we could see another 2D Metroid game before the next Metroid Prime and after Federation Force are high though in my opinion, but that is mostly because the next Prime isn’t in active development yet.

 

What does this mean for WiiU?

SPD 1 does not regularly make or co-develop home console games. Game & Wario was somewhat of an exception, together with Metroid Other M. Because those game weren’t really successes, we will probably not see any more of SPD 1’s work on WiiU.

SPD 2

Developer Latest game Release date Other games and projects Next game
SPD 2 Brain Age 2: More Training in Minutes a Day! June 2007 / /

Option 1

What are they working on?

Nothing. SPD 2 hasn’t developed its own boxed game since the release of Brain Age 2 in the West. The Brain Age series is currently housed at EAD 4. The other notable release of SPD 2 was Tetris DS. The Tetris license is now held by Ubisoft. Their last real feat was a DSiWare Majhong game in 2009, which was never released in the West.

Nowadays SPD 2 mostly co-produces games together with Japanese third party developers, notably: Arika, Creatures Inc., Game Freak, Ganbarion, Intelligent Systems, Mistwalker, Monolith Soft, Red Entertainment, Platinum Games, Syn Sophia, Tose, Treasure and Valhalla Game Studios. I will discuss these co-production relationships separately.

 

What does this mean for WiiU?

No SPD 2 developed games will release for WiiU. Some SPD 2 co-produced games will release for WiiU before Spring 2016. Some may release at a later date.

ARIKA

Developer Latest game Release date Other games and projects Next game
Arika Dr. Mario: Miracle Cure June 2015 Dr. Mario series

3D Classics series

Endless Ocean series

(?) Endless Ocean 3

Dr. Mario Miracle Cure

What are they working on?

Arika is also known for the Street Fighter EX series (last game released in 2000). No game in the series has been released for a Nintendo system so far. It is known that they made a sample for a new fighting game on 3DS which featured characters from the Street Fighter EX series. That game demo never became a real game (unless it is still in development). They did make Tekken 3D Prime (released in 2012 for the 3DS) for Namco Bandai games. They could be working on a new fighting game, but chances are slim. On the other hand, with Street Fighter V being a PlayStation exclusive, why not release a new Street Fighter EX game on multiple platforms? I would be very interested in playing that game on WiiU.

Arika has mostly been making smaller games for digital and smartphone platforms ever since the release of Endless Ocean 2. If they are making another big game for a Nintendo platform, it will most likely be Endless Ocean 3, which may still come to WiiU, but chances of that happening are very slim.

A Dr. Mario game they made just released for 3DS and Dr. Luigi was released on WiiU in 2013. We will not see any more Dr. Mario games for current gen Nintendo platforms. The next Nintendo system will, of course, get a new Dr. Mario game developed by Arika somewhere in its life span. Development of that new title will probably be underway.

Other than that, Arika hasn’t released a 3D Classics game since 2012. It’s safe to say they are not working on any games in that series anymore.

 

What does this mean for WiiU?

The only possible big name game that Arika may be working on for WiiU is Endless Ocean 3. Chances of that happening are very slim, but one can hope. They may still release a smaller match-three title (Puzzle Bobble? or something similar) for WiiU, but that’s not likely to happen.

CREATURES INC.

Developer Latest game Release date Other games and projects Next game
Creatures Inc. Pokémon Ranger: Guardian Signs November 2010 Pokémon trading cards and toys

Pokémon trading card series

PokéPark series

Pokémon Ranger series

Earthbound (Mother) series

(?) PokéPark 3

Pokémon_Ranger_Guardian_Signs_Cover

What are they working on?

Creatures Inc. are mostly known for making Pokémon trading cards and Pokémon toys. Currently they are also making smartphone games. They haven’t released a single game for Nintendo 3DS or Nintendo WiiU so far. Chances that they are still actively making big budget games are slim. A new game in the Earthbound series would probably be made by 1-UP Studio (the former Brownie Brown) and the Pokémon games would be handled by Game Freak.

I’m going to go on a limp here and say that they may still be working on PokéPark 3 for WiiU with a release window of Summer 2016. Not likely to happen, but let’s just hope these guys haven’t completely stopped developing actual videogames. The original Pokémon Trading Card game for the GameBoy was one of my favorite games as a kid. I would love to see another one of those (i.e. story driven) on 3DS or on the next Nintendo handheld.

What does this mean for WiiU?

PokéPark 3 for WiiU, Summer 2016, or bust. No, in reality chances are slim of seeing a Creatures Inc. game on WiiU.

GAME FREAK

Developer Latest game Release date Other games and projects Next game
Game Freak Pokémon Omega Ruby Pokémon Alpha Sapphire November 2014 Pokémon series

Drill Dozer

HarmoKnight

(?) Pokémon Z

Pokémon Omega and Alpha

What are they working on?

Game Freak is currently working on Tembo the Badass Elephant which is being published by Sega for PlayStation 4, PC and Xbox One in July 2015. This is probably a side project, just like HarmoKnight for 3DS and Drill Dozer for DS were.

Game Freak is most likely working on Pokémon Z, which should release for Nintendo 3DS November 2016. If not Pokémon Z, they are working on the next gen Pokémon game which may still release on 3DS, but may as well release on the next generation of Nintendo handhelds.

What does this mean for WiiU?

Game Freak is most likely not working on a WiiU game… unless Sega would still want them to port Tembo the Badass Elephant to WiiU after the game flops or becomes a huge success on the other current gen platforms.

GANBARION

Developer Latest game Release date Other games and projects Next game
Ganbarion One Piece: Unlimited World RED July 2014 Pandora’s Tower

One Piece Unlimited series

One Piece Grand series

(?) One Piece: Unlimited World BLUE

 One Piece Unlimited World RED

What are they working on?

Ganbarion is mostly known for developing One Piece videogames for Namco Bandai. Ever since 2005, every One Piece game they have made has seen a release on at least one Nintendo platform (as well as on other platforms sometimes). They are probably working on a new One Piece game. Probably another game in the Unlimited series, which may still come to WiiU (and 3DS), and which I’m labeling One Piece: Unlimited World BLUE. Maybe the fans can correct me on the color? I haven’t seen an episode past season 1 to be honest, so I don’t know which ocean color would be more logical.

Ganbarion also made Pandora’s Tower for Nintendo. Although a pretty unique game, it’s not likely to see a follow-up anytime soon.

What does this mean for WiiU?

Ganbarion is probably working on the next One Piece: Unlimited game. This game may still come to WiiU after Spring 2016.

INTELLIGENT SYSTEMS

Developer Latest game Release date Other games and projects Next game
Intelligent Systems Code Name: S.T.E.A.M. May 2015 Fire Emblem series

WarioWare series

Paper Mario series

Advance Wars series

Pushmo/ Fallblox series

Fire Emblem Fates

Code Name S.T.E.A.M.

What are they working on?

Though not really a third party studio anymore (although they have done some work with Square-Enix for DSi and Wii somewhat recently), relations with Intelligent Systems are still being handled by SPD 2.

Intelligent Systems should have finished working on Fire Emblem Fates by now because it was already released in Japan. This game reuses a lot of assets from Fire Emblem Awakening. Because of there being three different story versions of the game, it will still have taken a moderately sized team to produce. A small team may still be working on upcoming DLC for the game, but the main team will have started drawing the blueprints for the next Fire Emblem which will most likely not release on current gen systems anymore.

This is related to the fact that the we will still see Fire Emblem on WiiU in the form of Genei Ibun Roku X FE (Shin Megami Tensei x Fire Emblem), which Intelligent Systems have been working on with Atlus. Development of that title is mostly taken care of by Atlus though.

Other notable projects of Intelligent Systems that have seen recent Western releases are Code Name: S.T.E.A.M. and Fullblox (Stretchmo), both released in May. Code Name: S.T.E.A.M. was not a commercial success and we will most likely not see a second game set in that world anytime soon. The WiiU may still get a Fallblox/Fullblox (Pushmo/Stretchmo) game in 2016, since Intelligent Systems have annualized the series… sort of, with one game per year ever since 2011, apart from 2013, which saw no release in the series. Possible title candidate: Fullblox World for WiiU. I say it will be released on WiiU mostly because the 3DS already has three games in the series.

As has been said when discussing what SPD 1 is working on currently, a new WarioWare should also be in the works at Intelligent Systems. Since Game&Wario wasn’t really a success (I’m being nice) the next WarioWare game will probably be for a handheld device again, possibly still for the 3DS, but most likely for the next handheld system.

The team that did Codename S.T.E.A.M. will probably have begun working on a new Advance Wars game. That game will most likely be released on the next handheld system.

The Paper Mario series is also one of Intelligent Systems’ staple series. Unlike most of the franchises they work on, the Paper Mario series is not coordinated by SPD 2, but by SPD 3 (which normally coordinates working relations with Western third party studios). There’s usually three to five years between every Paper Mario iteration. That means we may still see a  Paper Mario game on WiiU in 2016 (Sticker Star was released in 2013). On the other hand, in 2016 we will already be getting Mario & Luigi: Paper Jam on Nintendo 3DS, which is a crossover game between the Mario & Luigi series and the Paper Mario series. Most likely then, Paper Mario will skip WiiU, unless the console is still relevant in 2017.

What does this mean for WiiU?

Genei Ibun Roku X FE (Shin Megami Tensei x Fire Emblem) will release in 2016. Chances are we will also see Fallblox World for WiiU in 2016. Paper Mario or Advance Wars? Don’t get your hopes up.