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Nintendo has a new President: Tatsumi Kimishima
#1
To replace Satoru Iwata, Nintendo chose Tatsumi Kimishima. He's in his 60s now, so he probably isn't meant as a long-term president, but they needed someone so they chose someone close to Iwata. He apparently was originally a banker, before joint Nintend in the early '00s. Kimishima was head of NoA from 2002 to 2006 under Iwata, and after that went back to Japan. Miyamoto and Takeda are the next two; they seem to be trying a more group-leadership style than before, with the three of them on top. Kimishima sure doesn't look to have Iwata's personality, but hopefully will do a good job of leading Nintendo for the coming years; I'm sure he can do it, my concerns below are purely about the past.

http://www.neogaf.com/forum/showthread.php?t=1111691

This is also relevant, discussing reorganizations within Nintendo:
http://www.neogaf.com/forum/showthread.php?t=1111862

I know I've posted about this before, but because of who Nintendo chose, it made me think about the GC era again... and overall I'm not thrilled with this choice, but it could be worse. Really, what I wish Nintendo would do is let NoA be an independent branch again as they were back when Nintendo was successful in the US in the '80s and '90s, but instead the guy who played a major role in Iwata's plan to centralize power in Japan is now President.

This is disappointing because looking back, Iwata's centralization of power is one of his bigger mistakes, in my opinion; perhaps Howard Lincoln could not be replaced, but Iwata didn't try, he decided to take more control of NoA himself instead. I know there are other major factors for Nintendo's fading in the US, probably most importantly Microsoft's entry into the console industry -- thanks to Halo and their Western developer outreach MS stole away the N64's core-gamer shooter-fan audience, after all! That seriously hurt Nintendo. Maybe Nintendo losing the Western support they had had on the N64 was inevitable as soon as MS entered the industry, but I think that Iwata taking power away from NoA, and the retirements of NoA's top people (Howard Lincoln and Minoru Arakawa retired) at around that time, really hurt. The NoA led by Kimishima, Reggie, and co. isn't anywhere near as successful as the NoA of before. (For those who forget, the N64 had some good support from major Western third parties, but much less from the major Japanese third parties, who left in favor of Sony and Sega.) All that hard work Lincoln and co. put into building up a strong Western first, second, and third party development base on the N64 was lost in the GC and Wii years as Iwata-led NCL focused on Japanese development and weaker hardware instead. Between Iwata cutting back on Western first/second/close-third-party relationships in the West and Microsoft pushing hard for Western third party support, Nintendo lost Western third parties that generation, and so far that has proven a permanent breach. Of course, in Japan the third parties had mostly been lost on the N64, which is why Iwata tried so hard to get them back on the GC -- the SNES to N64 crash in Japan was massive, in terms of both sales and third-party support. The problem is, it didn't work well -- the GC sold worse than the N64 in Japan, and the Wii was quickly abandoned by Japanese third parties in favor of the PS3.

Of course, one other move had a major effect on third-party support (particularly Western support, but somewhat Japanese as well particularly for the Wii and beyond) -- one major draw for Western developers to the N64 was the system's power, after all. The decision to abandon high-end hardware after the GC's failure really helped push away third parties, looking back. Iwata, Takeda, and Miyamoto all agreed on this for both the Wii and Wii U as far as we know, and it worked great for the Wii, but then crashed hard with its followup of course. Was it worth it? With the Wii, you can make a good case for yes; most Western third parties had given up on Nintendo during the GC era after all, and after seeing the 360's success they weren't necessarily going to return, though the weird controller and low-power system, did surely help keep them away, budget minigame collections aside. Still, the Wii is a fantastic console, and I love the Wiimote, it's a great controller that led to some great new gameplay concepts. Pointer controls are great. (This is why I wish the Wii U had used a Wiimote-like controller as its main controller instead of that tablet, the tablet was a mistake. But that's another issue.) Just because the Wii U went terribly doesn't mean the Wii idea was bad... but still, I do wish that the Wii had been a bit more powerful, though it's a bigger problem for the Wii U probably.

Now, in Iwata and NCL's defense, what happened to Nintendo's third-party support may have been inevitable. From the N64 on, many third parties, first Japanese and then later Western, abandoned Nintendo because they preferred to support platforms with weaker first-party development studios, which is the opposite of what Nintendo does. When you have very strong first party games, it's harder for third parties to be as noticed. They can do it (see the NES and SNES), but it requires a little more effort, and this of course drove away third parties. And with MS's entry, Nintendo holding on to the level of Western support it had seen on the N64 was probably not going to happen, MS was aimed straight at that audience and was going to get at least some of it. Still, I do think that Lincoln and Arakawa may have been able to do a better job than we saw during the GC era... ah well. And also, the decision to give up on high-end hardware really was key. The N64 and early Gamecube got some strong third-party support after all, only fading midlife during the GC generation thanks to the GC's weaker sales compared ot the N64 (again, with the Xbox being a major cause maybe even more so than the PS2).

So yeah, I liked Iwata a lot for some things he did -- getting better games on Nintendo platforms from Japanese studios again (after the N64 had very little of this), being such a great face for the company with such a funny, positive attitude, helping make the Wii and DS the two most successful platforms of the generation, and more -- but still, losing the Western second and third parties during the GC and early Wii era hurt, and Nintendo just picked the guy who oversaw that as head of NoA during that exact period as the new President. So yeah. I was expecting something like this to happen, because NCL's current leadership clearly likes the centralized-power strategy, but I do think it has hurt Nintendo at least a bit. The Gamecube was my only current-gen TV console between Nov. '01 and summer 2007, and I loved the system (though a bit less than I had loved the N64), but I did notice the slow loss of third-party support over the course of the generation, thanks to the GC's poor sales compared to the N64, the Xbox taking away shooter fans, and the PS2's dominating success everywhere. It's impossible to say if Nintendo could have done better or not, but I like speculative gaming history, so I'd like to think that they could have.


Regardless, that's mostly in the past; I may love history, but the question of 'what next' is of course quite pertinent. Well, there there's less to say -- Kimishima, from what we have heard, plans to continue Iwata's vision for the foreseeable future. So, Nintendo will continue to enter into the mobile (cellphone) gaming market, while working on the NX whatever it is. Kimishima, Takeda, and Miyamoto will run the company not too differently from how it had been, but without it somewhat charismatic leader. I'd like to see what Reggie could do with more power (remember, most decisions now come from NCL in Japan), but that isn't going to happen. Regardless, under any leadership this is definitely a very difficult time for the industry, but I'm hoping Nintendo can figure out how to come back and succeed again because I love Nintendo and Nintendo consoles, and don't want to see them go away, or worse, go mobile only like so many other Japanese developers have... if it is at all possible they need to figure out what to do. Here's hoping it works.
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#2
Then again, it's just that centralization of power that has allowed us to see franchises that the "old guard" had basically decided wouldn't be profitable in the US, like Fire Emblem.
"On two occasions, I have been asked [by members of Parliament], 'Pray, Mr. Babbage, if you put into the machine wrong figures, will the right answers come out?' I am not able to rightly apprehend the kind of confusion of ideas that could provoke such a question." ~ Charles Babbage (1791-1871)
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#3
You are right on that point at least, getting Fire Emblem in the West was really fantastic, that series is one of Nintendo's best. It would have been awful if we had continued to miss out on them...

And on that note, we did get most of the good first-party games during that '02 to '06 period, which was quite nice. Since then that has changed of course, on the Wii and DS Nintendo went back to not localizing some games for various (often annoying) reasons. I don't know if Kimishima had anything to do with that though, considering that it was really Iwata in charge through the whole period from '02 to earlier this year.
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