Nintendo has a new leader.
The 125-year-old company appointed Tatsumi Kimishima, former head of Nintendo’s human relations department, as its new president on September 14.
Here’s a brief list of what we know about Kimishima thus far:
- He worked at Sanwa Bank of Japan for the vast majority of his career (27 years, according to Wikipedia).
- He’s run several different components of Nintendo’s business after joining the company in 2000.
- He started at Nintendo as the chief financial officer of Nintendo’s subsidiary, The Pokémon Company.
- He was tapped to run Nintendo of America as its second president in 2002.
- He moved back to Japanese management in June 2013 with the title of “managing director.” He also served as, “General Manager, Corporate Analysis & Administration Division and General Manager, General Affairs Division.”
- He’s been running Nintendo’s human resources department since June 2014.
That’s quite a list, and it’s entirely a resume. Who is this guy? First, some things he isn’t.
Unlike former Nintendo president Satoru Iwata who died from cancer in July 2015, Kimishima isn’t a former game programmer or even necessarily a guy who plays games. He’s a former banker turned CFO turned president turned human resources leader. Though he’s spent years working for Nintendo, he’s never worked in game or hardware development. That is starkly different from Iwata’s path to leadership, which can be traced across years of game development.
Iwata was known for hamming it up during Nintendo’s live streams — here’s puppet Iwata from a recent video:
Kimishima, thus far, doesn’t exhibit the same passion that his predecessor did for the world of video games, or the same playfulness Iwata exhibited as a company representative. It is day one for Kimishima as Nintendo’s president, though he previously spent years serving as the president of Nintendo of America and made nowhere near the kind of splash that current Nintendo of America leader Reggie Fils-Aime has.
During a famous 2005 speech at the annual Game Developers Conference in San Francisco, Iwata told attendees, “On my business card, I am a corporate president. In my mind, I am a game developer. But in my heart, I am a gamer.”
Here’s that full speech:
This sentiment does not seem to be shared by Kimishima. His main statement on September 14, during a press conference announcing his new job title in Osaka, Japan, was, “There will be no change in President Iwata’s fundamental objectives and strategies.”
And that makes a lot of sense, actually, given Kimishima’s background.
“He’s been watching Mr. Iwata closely for a long time, so Mr. Kimishima is a safe choice to implement steps laid out by Mr. Iwata,” analyst Osamu Kamada of Tokai Tokyo Securities told the Wall Street Journal. We asked Wedbush analyst Michael Pachter, who covers the game industry about Nintendo’s new president. “They chose an insider, so my guess is that there will be a lot of continuity. I would be surprised if anything changes at all,” Pachter told Tech Insider.
There’s plenty of continuity to follow — Iwata had laid out several major initiatives for Nintendo across the next few years, from a plan to go after mobile gaming with Nintendo titles to an all-new game console (codenamed “Project NX”). And that’s to say nothing of the “quality of life” initiative that was long-planned and rarely spoken of, said to be a health product of some type.
So, who is Tatsumi Kimishima? That remains to be seen.
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