Miyamoto Unlikely to Be Iwata’s Successor, Experts Say
Industry analysts say that we shouldn't expect Mario creator Shigeru Miyamoto to ascend to the rank of Nintendo CEO following the loss of the company's president.
As the gaming community still continues to mourn the recent loss of Nintendo President Satoru Iwata, the House of Mario has yet to formally choose a successor to become the company's next President and CEO. While the atmosphere is still sad throughout Nintendo's buildings, the company itself has to start making some big decisions about moving without having Iwata to guide them. Most importantly, they need to decide on who will be leading the company in the aftermath and beyond. Nintendo Research Division General Manager Genyo Takeda is acting as the company's interim Representative Director in the meantime with legendary developer Shigeru Miyamoto by his side in what is presumably an advising role. Nevertheless, time is counting down on Nintendo to make a big decision about its future, as Iwata led the company for the past 13 years.
GamesIndustry.biz spoke with multiple analysts about where Nintendo should go next. While several people believe Miyamoto should be Iwata's successor, the industry experts who were consulted disagreed. Of course, the successor is most likely to be promoted from within Nintendo itself and not hired from an outside source.
Here's what Parker Consulting analyst Nick Parker had to say:
I am pretty sure that the candidate will come from within the business; the very essence of Nintendo games draws from decades of management recognising a market desire for mass market fun. The obvious two choices are Takeda-san or Miyamoto-san, the former a hardware technology company veteran, the latter, the king of Nintendo first party content. Although it would be a romantic dream to have the company lead by the father of Mario, I think Takeda-san has more corporate experience and really understands hardware; it was he who argued for a new interface for the Wii rather than just a faster Gamecube with better graphics. We are on the cusp of a new generation of Nintendo hardware within three years, both console and handheld, and Nintendo needs Takeda-san's experience. The alternative would be a relative unknown from within, from which there is a deep pool of loyal, long serving (25 years+) candidates. The next five years are crucial to Nintendo as it launches new hardware and explores digital opportunities, including mobile, for its mascot titles; therefore it needs somebody who understands the company culture, can respond to global consumer expectations, and manage an enviable balance sheet.
While Miyamoto is an unparalleled designer and creator, perhaps he's not as business-savvy as Takeda or one of the company's other executive board members.
"Genyo Takeda, who helped Punch-Out and Startropics, was one of the main devs on the Wii, and has a similar trajectory in the company as Iwata (from programmer to manager to executive). Takeda is likely a lead candidate for the job," said EEDAR Qualitative Insights Manager Mike Schramm. "Nintendo also has a number of executives on its board of directors who also could step up into the spot. It's very unlikely that the company would hire someone from outside Japan or from another corporation, as Nintendo doesn't need to (and shouldn't want to) make waves with this appointment. Most likely it'll be a senior Japanese executive at the company, ideally someone who has had a hand in game development at some point."
Here's what IDC research manager Lewis Ward had to add:
[Iwata's replacement] is going to have to hit the ground running since Nintendo is facing stiff competition from both within and beyond the industry. Given the fast pace of consumer electronics evolution and the rise of Web-based services, it's pretty clear that the games industry is going to be dramatically different 5 years from now. The new CEO will have to have a plan for navigating these waters with NX and so on, while not undercutting Nintendo's surprisingly innovative culture and willingness to reinvent much-beloved franchises. I can't speculate further on who the next CEO is likely to be, but the background of that individual will say a lot about where Nintendo wants to go in the next several years, which will be crucial to the company's long-term fortunes.
Nintendo has some heavy projects in the works, including its mobile gaming debut, the mysterious NX console, the NX's inevitable handheld counterpart, numerous AAA games and the Quality of Life initiative. While many of these were created due to Iwata's leadership, a new CEO and President could easily steer them in a different direction. For example, it was Iwata who decided to pull Nintendo out of doing live, on-stage presentations at E3 (after some rather cheesy Wii exhibitions a few years prior), and a new CEO could change that. Nevertheless, we expect a new successor to be announced soon.
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