Nintendo President Tatsumi Kimishima will be stepping down, Nintendo announced today. The company also stated Kimishima's replacement: Shuntaro Furukawa, board member of The Pokemon Company. Furukawa will be formally inducted in June.
Furukawa graduated from Waseda University, with studies in the School of Political Science and Economics. He joined Nintendo in April, 1994, four years after the Super Nintendo Entertainment System released, and two years before the Nintendo 64 launched. As reported by Bloomberg, Nintendo hosted a news conference in Osaka to detail the change in management. Furukawa was naturally asked about his method for managing the company that has created iconic franchises such as Super Mario and The Legend of Zelda.
Shuntaro Furukawa: “I grew up playing the Famicom and come from that generation,” “Now as a member of management with Super Mario’s creator Shigeru Miyamoto, I have a lot of respect for him. On the other hand, with this new job that can’t just be it, so I expect to say what needs to be said to run the company.”
For those outside Japan, Kimishima's departure may come as sudden. He served as the company's president for under three years, succeeding the late Satoru Iwata. It should be noted however that during Kimishima's time of presidency, Nintendo went through big revolutions. After the commercial failure of the Wii U, the company needed to bounce back. It was during Kimishima's time as president that the Switch was launched. The Switch is the fastest selling home video game system of all time in the United States, according to Nintendo. The company's financial data section states the Switch has sold almost 18 million units. This means that the Switch has eclipsed the lifetime sales of the Wii U. During Kimishima's presidency, Nintendo also secured a deal with Illumination Entertainment to produce a Super Mario theatrical movie, and soon theme parks starring Nintendo franchises will open up. While short, Kimishima's time with Nintendo has proved important for the company.
Furukawa is the latest in a short list of company presidents. The first president in relation to video games (Nintendo was around before video games were a concept) was Hiroshi Yamauchi, who oversaw the NES, SNES, Nintendo 64, and GameCube. Yamauchi was primarily responsible for making Nintendo the major force it is today. David Sheff's definitive book, "Game Over," chronicles Yamauchi's rise into Nintendo, and how he pushed the company to great heights. Satoru Iwata succeeded Yamauchi in 2002. Iwata oversaw the DS, Wii, 3DS, and Wii U. He also oversaw development of the Switch until his death in 2015, so much of the Switch's success is owed to him. Iwata was more communicative with audiences outside Japan than his predecessor, doing the popular "Iwata Asks" segments on Nintendo's website, giving players an inside look into the development of consoles and software.
Each Nintendo president listed has brought something to the table in making the company a major force. With Nintendo's profits currently soaring, it will be interesting to see what Furukawa does for the company going forward.