Here’s What Iwata Hopes To Achieve As Nintendo of America’s New CEO

By Ishaan . April 30, 2013 . 9:20am

Last week, Nintendo announced that the company’s global president, Satoru Iwata, would be taking over as Nintendo of America’s CEO in addition to his ongoing responsibilities as president. Meanwhile, current NOA CEO, Tatsumi Kimishima, is being promoted to Nintendo’s managing director.


In a financial results Q&A, Iwata shared what he hopes to achieve in his new position as CEO of Nintendo’s U.S. division. The goal, he says, is to intensify communications between Nintendo’s Japanese and U.S. branches.


“I already communicate very frequently with those working for our overseas subsidiaries, but I will try to intensify the communications with them to make their marketing strategies and tactics more aligned with the management decisions at the headquarters,” Iwata shared.


“I will also inform them about the products under development on a more timely basis so that they can take advantage of the sales potential of such products in their business territories.”


Up until now, Iwata has also been the general manager of Nintendo’s Software Planning & Development division, the group within the company that oversees the creation of games such as XenobladeStyle SavvyFire Emblem, Metroid and more. Once Nintendo’s new management changes go into effect, Shinya Takahashi—who is currently the deputy general manager of SPD—will replace Iwata as manager. This will allow Iwata to focus more on his added duties as Nintendo of America CEO.


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  • Solomon_Kano

    Good, good. Streamlined communication internationally should lead to more uniform software releases where possible.

    Which is to say, hopefully that leads to Nintendo published content getting closer to having simultaneous global releases. Pokemon will be going for that this fall, but hopefully that’ll encompass as much of their forthcoming software as possible.

    • TiredOfMyOldUsername

      I think having simultaneous release worldwide would help sales.
      Lot of time i saw peoples being excited with a game, but after having to wait months for a game their interest started going somewhere else.

      • raymk

        I can agree but with most games from nintendo like pokemon,smash mariokart those games don’t really matter if theres a gap. Sometimes its best to release games when no other game has a chance to cut into sales which isn’t always the same releases depending on the company.

  • Andrew Arndt

    hope it works out for us on the west US and EU

  • I’m not sure how I feel about Iwata giving up his position as general manager of SPD. A lot of those games (like Pandora’s Tower, for example) may not even have been greenlit without him.

    He’s had his fingers in a lot of pies these past few years. While I don’t doubt that SPD will continue to put quirky games out, and Shinya Takahashi has been part of the group for a while, too, I do wonder if Iwata not being there will affect their development in any way.

    I dearly hope this doesn’t affect the quality of Iwata Asks either, since he won’t be as closely involved with the SPD teams any more. SPD interviews are always more interesting to read than the EAD ones, since SPD is Iwata’s baby. They’re always very insightful when it comes to development processes and things.

    • puchinri

      I feel the same. I was kind of startled (and even worried) on that last bit. It just makes me uncomfortable.

      Then again, maybe Takahashi has worked with Iwata (and SPD) enough to have a sense of what is fun/wise to greenlight (or maybe he’ll even confer with Iwata about it).

      I had forgotten about that part too. Now I just feel so glum, like a sad kitten.

      • Yeah, I hope that Takahashi does confer with Iwata on SPD production. I can’t imagine Iwata will want to cut himself off entirely either. I mean, he is a game developer at heart. I guess all we can do is hope for the best.

        • Think about this, Iwata green lit things that had to be approved from above. Now he is the person approving. And the person replacing him will know what he liked, what he wanted, and be reporting to him. I don’t think is a bad thing at all for what you are talking about.

          • Think about this, Iwata green lit things that had to be approved from above.

            Approved from above? Iwata was/is the company president. :P

    • Ethan_Twain

      Well do we know anything about this Takahashi fellow? Just because Iwata’s done well in this position doesn’t mean we’re necessarily downgrading.

      • Solomon_Kano

        Takahashi’s been with SPD for years. Before that he was with EAD.

      • Yup, like @Solomon_Kano:disqus said, Takahashi’s been with SPD for a while. He’s worked closely with Iwata over the years. I don’t think it’s necessarily a question of “downgrading”… more that I’m just a little uncomfortable with the change personally, because we don’t know what the outcome will be. Like I said, I don’t think there’s any need to be overly worried. Just that having the company president in charge of SPD likely afforded them some conveniences that they may not have any more.

        edit: Also, it isn’t just a question of Iwata having done well in this position. Back in 2002, when Iwata became Nintendo president, he restructured the company into its EAD and SPD groups. Miyamoto was the general manager of EAD while Iwata was general manager of SPD (in addition to their more senior roles at Nintendo). The differences in EAD and SPD have always been so clear, and that’s largely because Iwata isn’t Miyamoto—and I mean that in the best way possible.

        • Ethan_Twain

          That’s really interesting! I’d never picked up on this separation between the different branches of Nintendo’s internal development. Would you be willing to briefly break down what makes these two branches distinct? I can look up the list of who made which game myself on Wikipedia, but I would love to hear about these differences between the two that are so distinct in your eyes.

          • Sure! Wikipedia actually has a somewhat detailed breakdown, which you can find here:

            EAD and SPD are both split into multiple groups, with each one being led by a different manager. EAD and SPD both have five groups each. The primary difference between them is that EAD produces the big-sellers. The Marios and the Wii Fits and whatnot. They have large development teams that are dedicated to making Nintendo-like games.

            Meanwhile, SPD is a smaller group and is more focused on producing software in collaboration with other developers or other divisions within Nintendo (like Intelligent Systems or Retro Studios). They don’t have as much in-house development staff, but are constantly working with other companies/divisions to make different kinds of games. I like to think of SPD as the group that provides auxiliary software. While Nintendo needs Mario and Zelda to keep bringing in big sales, SPD’s games are the ones that fill in the gaps. It’s where most of Nintendo’s new character-driven IP has come from over the last few years.

            I guess if you want to put it in simple terms, SPD are the group that make the kind of games that “hardcore” gamers would be more interested in.

            The two groups are in separate buildings, too, at least for the moment. SPD is housed in the same building as Intelligent Systems, while EAD is in a separate building. Eventually, all of these folks will end up in Nintendo’s new headquarters, which is currently under construction in Kyoto.

          • Ethan_Twain

            So is it then safe to say that with Nintendo’s focus on collaborations with third party developers both on their IP (Ninja Gaiden 3 Razor’s Edge, SMT IV publishing, Bravely Default publishing, Bayonetta), and Nintendo’s own IP (Super Smash Brothers, Luigi’s Mansion), as well as Nintendo’s rediscovered interest in RPGs that a lot of their new initiatives hinge on SPD? Seems like surely that branch must be expanding since so much of the announced software coming out over the next few years is under their purview.

          • In some cases, yes, and in others, no. In the case of Ninja Gaiden 3, SMTIV and Bravely Default, those are publishing-only deals. Nintendo weren’t actively involved in the development of those games, so I doubt SPD were part of the picture in any major way.

            In the case of Luigi’s Mansion, absolutely. Yoshihito Ikebata from SPD acted as supervisor on that game. Additionally, there was EAD involvement, too, in the form of Miyamoto acting as advisor, since it’s a Mario-based IP.

            RPG-wise, most recently, SPD were involved in supervising Fire Emblem: Awakening and Paper Mario: Sticker Star. Hitoshi Yamagami from SPD2 (Xenoblade, Pandora’s Tower, Style Savvy) oversaw Fire Emblem, while Kensuke Tanabe from SPD3 (every Retro Studios game) was in charge of supervising Paper Mario.

            For future developments, SPD will absolutely be involved with Nintendo’s RPGs. Yamagami is probably overseeing X from Monolith Soft, and SPD are very likely involved with Shin Megami Tensei X Fire Emblem as well.

            I don’t think there’s any major involvement from SPD in Smash Bros. Sakurai is in charge of that game, and while both EAD and SPD are probably providing support of some sort, Sakurai’s projects are handled directly by him, and he reports directly to Iwata as far as I can tell.

            As for SPD expanding… I don’t know if they really need to? SPD itself isn’t a large development group. It’s more a division formed up of smaller teams with a focus on management. The managers at Nintendo are all former developers themselves, so SPD basically lets other companies/divisions do the actual development while providing support and creative guidelines themselves.

            Managers at SPD are good at multi-tasking, too. Each one of the senior managers usually has at least two projects on his/her plate at any given point, from what I can tell. SPD is a very efficiently run group, and it needs to be that way because they don’t work on games that sell 4-10 million like EAD does. They work on more niche games, and it’s more cost effective to outsource those to other companies while SPD itself remains relatively small and does management.

            Basically, as far back as ten years ago, Nintendo mastered what Capcom have been trying to do for ages—build an effective outsourcing model where quality doesn’t suffer.

  • Tg

    Still waiting for Fantasy Life, Iwata-san. :) May both branches streamline more~!!

  • Keima88

    If he brings digimon, Hatsune Miku Project mirai and other popular (Third-party) Japanese games that we want to the west… I will be so happy…

    Argh calm down me. To bring those games over you need a market, translation, copyright stuf and lots of other difficult things that I can not even imagine… but I can keep on hoping that it will someday come right? Right!?

  • puchinri

    I don’t know how to feel anymore. The article had me nodding and smiling, until I got to the end where I kind of twitched. It just feels awkward if Iwata isn’t with SPD. Is this worth it? ;u;

    Maybe Iwata won’t be entirely uninvolved with SPD though. . .

  • malek86

    Well I wonder what their plans for Europe are, then. Perhaps they’ll eventually streamline there too? Or maybe they feel that their performance there is good enough.

    Anyway, still hits me as unnecessary. There are ways to streamline communications that don’t involve doubling your own amount of work (which is also why Iwata is leaving SPD – we’ll see if that leads to good results).

    • SirRichard

      I don’t think he’s going to do the same thing for Europe; he and Shibata seem to have a good thing going on, the people who watch the European Directs now know who Shibata is. Contrast that with the American CEO; many people immediately thought that that was Reggie, and a lot were surprised when it wasn’t. It’s a “face of the company” thing, I imagine.

      Iwata’s probably confident enough in his communications with the European branch, that or perhaps he feels he can strengthen communications with the European branch from the American branch?

  • $36598391

    Nintendo of America Fatal Frame IV Please!

    • Solomon_Kano

      That ship’s sailed, bro.

    • Tails the Foxhound

      Only if they suddenly start selling Wii games digitally for Wii U does that even have a remote possibility. That or an HD collection.

  • Who else read Iwata’s quote with his voice?

    • AlteisenX

      …Good to know I’m not the only one.

  • SirRichard

    The focus on “intensifying communications” between branches says to me that Iwata probably has some sort of serious marketing plan/push lined up and he wants it all to go exactly right, hence the need to assume direct control and so on.

    It’ll be interesting to see what comes from them now, especially with Iwata no longer being the chief decision-maker on what gets greenlit. I’d hope Takahashi takes after his boss, but who knows, he may end up better at this than Iwata.

  • idrawrobots

    All I want is for Nintendo’s games to be released world wide. Is that really too much to ask?

    • David García Abril

      Sometimes, I’m afraid it is.

      Localization takes time, and not every game can afford starting it before the game itself is complete, specially new IPs.

      • Kyosuke Yoshino

        Why do Nintendo think that foreigners can’t understand and enjoy the games in Japanese? Nowadays more and more people are learning the language, I don’t care if some games are not localized, as long as I can import it at least, but sadly they don’t provide this option.

        • porkiewpyne

          Thing is, that’s not the reason behind the region locking.

          • Its taxes. Though Im thankful the DS Lite isnt region locked

      • Just Tim

        Nintendo has the option to make history by inducing simultaneous multi-region release, if it wants to.


        8PM Friday, LA
        11PM Friday, NY
        1PM Saturday, Tokyo

  • ElAbuelo69


  • William Cole

    Iwata is a likeable guy. I’m glad he’s trying to improve relations with over sea Japanese companies. The JRPG genre is still the best type of RPG period. I haven’t seen much of it since Ni No Kuni. I want Dragon Quest VII, Dragon Quest Monsters 1+2 for 3DS please.

  • Tsurugi

    Bring Inazuma Eleven GO for 3DS, please!!!!!

  • Christopher Nunes

    Does that mean we’ll see Senran Kagura and Digimon World Re:Digitze Decoded in US one day? Please let that be true if he increases the communication between the US and Japanese branch and the fans show how much they want those games!

    I really want to play those game in English! And I’m pretty sure there’s other excellent 3DS games out there to try out as well!

    PS: Did they ever confirm the real reason behind the region-locking the system? I really don’t understand the logic behind it.

  • Stronger line of communication and faster… Would that mean chances of more localization or faster, or both?
    Either way I keep my hopes and high for the future~ *Hugs my 3DSXL*

  • Just give me a region free 3ds

    • Juan Manuel M. Suárez

      Region free Nintendo systems really, not just the 3DS~.

  • steinhauershawn

    For starters he can improve the 3DS Virtual Console and give us all the NES Super Mario Bros, games and a bigger Game Gear library like Japan.

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