HR man becomes Nintendo boss

Nintendo_former_headquarter_plate_KyotoFormer card maker Nintendo has shuffled its management deck and appointed a human resources executive to President.

Tatsumi Kimishima, 65, will succeed the legendary and now dead Satoru Iwata, the company said Monday. Kimishima has worked for Pokemon and was chief executive officer of Nintendo of America where he oversaw the US introduction of the Wii console and the 3DS handheld device.

Kimishima has his work cut out improving Nintendo.  Its business model has been undermined by competitors’ free-to-play games on mobile devices and weak sales of its Wii U machine.

Nintendo’s revenue has fallen six straight years, dropping to 550 billion yen ($4.6 billion) in the 12 months ended March 2015. That is less than when Iwata took the role. The company has sold about 10 million units of the Wii U since its introduction in 2012.

Nintendo is set to release its first game service for smartphones this year and is preparing a new console code-named NX.

Kimishima said that the basic direction and strategy won’t change and he will continue along the path set by Iwata.

Iwata was the face of Nintendo for 13 years, fronting everything from product announcements to analyst meetings. Iwata, the first president from outside the Yamauchi family since the company was founded in the late 19th century, tripled revenue through new devices and interactive figurines called Amiibo.

The company last week announced a new Pokemon title that uses a Bluetooth-ready button to interact with characters displayed in the real world. Nintendo has 32 percent of Pokemon’s voting rights.

Nintendo also is working with Universal Parks & Resorts to offer attractions based on its intellectual property.

Since his death in July from bile duct cancer, the Kyoto-based company has been led by Shigeru Miyamoto, the creator of the Mario and Zelda series, and Genyo Takeda, the architect of the Wii console.

“We thought it’s better that Takeda and Miyamoto manage hardware and software, and I control administration,” Kimishima said. The new system is meant “to bring up the next-generation executives of Nintendo,” he said.

Miyamoto and Takeda will take the roles of “Creative Fellow” and “Technology Fellow,” respectively.