Alongside his duties as Nintendo’s president, Satoru Iwata used to manage the company’s Software Planning & Development (SPD) department, which is responsible for developing games both internally and in collaboration with external studios and companies. This changed in 2013 when Iwata took over as CEO of Nintendo of America. Iwata found his replacement in Shinya Takahashi, who took over his management duties, allowing him to focus on his president/CEO responsibilities.
Since then, however, Iwata has found himself taking on two other management roles at Nintendo, in addition to his duties as president. In an investor Q&A, Iwata reveals that he is currently in charge of the System Development Division at Nintendo, as well as the department responsible for the company’s Quality of Life initiative.
In Iwata words, the System Development Division “creates fundamental parts of software development such as the network, system software, OS, SDK (Software Development Kit) and libraries” for Nintendo platforms. Since Iwata is the only member of Nintendo’s board with a programming background, he is currently best suited to managing this department. However, as with SPD, Iwata someday hopes to find someone else to replace him as the manager of the System Development Division, so he can fully devote himself to his presidential duties.
Including the System Development Division, Nintendo has four major departments in total, according to Iwata. On the software development side, there’s the Entertainment Analysis & Development (Mario, Zelda, Splatoon etc.) and Software Planning & Development (Xenoblade, Style Savvy, Metroid etc.) divisions. On the hardware side, there’s the hardware development department, which brings together Nintendo’s handheld and home console development teams. Finally, there’s the aforementioned System Development Division.
Meanwhile, the Quality of Life division is a newly-created department called the “QOL Business Development Department”. This is a separate division within Nintendo that was created by assembling members from the company’s other departments, and it reports directly to Iwata. The QOL team’s immediate goal is to launch their new health-oriented business and begin contributing to Nintendo’s profits alongside the company’s videogame business.