The last five years have been an explosive period of growth for Nintendo and their quest for expansion outside of the traditional game-playing audience. Under the leadership of president Satoru Iwata, the company that was once close to falling dangerously out of touch with the industry has been able to wrestle its leadership position back from Sony Computer Entertainment and help pave the way for the future of the business as a whole.
However, the journey to the top, as one can guess, has been far from easy. A report at Japanese industry site Gamebusiness.jp sourced from Nikkei’s print tabloid further reveals that Nintendo’s growth was almost too fast for the company’s understaffed management to be able to cope with.
Part of the reason for this, the report states, is that the rapid spread of the Wii and DS globally and online expansion efforts resulted in a greatly increased workload for a number of Nintendo branches. The company’s network development department in particular voiced dissatisfactions with their workload. Furthermore, Nintendo’s software development teams were so busy creating sequels to existing popular I.P., they were unable find the time to dedicate themselves to the development of new franchises.
At the start of 2009, Iwata compiled a list of Nintendo’s internal problems. The list, shockingly, amounted to nearly 700 items. There’s little doubt that Iwata’s concerns regarding third-party developer relations were a prominent part of it. Another significant problem reported was “unexpected accidents in communication between branches,” which also points to management issues.
The solution to the company’s understaffed management problem was outsourcing. Rather than ramp up the size of Nintendo’s staff significantly — although, the company did expand by about 300 employees in 2009 — Iwata thought to entrust auxiliary and “low-priority” software development to external firms.
The report concludes stating that the reforms introduced by Iwata and the improvements made to the company’s “lacking administration” have brought Nintendo to a new future, and suggests that perhaps Iwata can facilitate further growth while preserving the essence that is Nintendo.