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Reggie Fils-Aimé On The Challenges Of Running Nintendo Of America - MinnMax Interview

Bullet Club

Member


In this interview with MinnMax's Ben Hanson, the former President of Nintendo of America Reggie Fils-Aimé talks about his new book Disrupting the Game: From the Bronx to the Top of Nintendo and some of the challenges he encountered within the organization. He explains why he's not interested in surfacing more Nintendo history, what it's like working with Shigeru Miyamoto, shares some thoughts on the Wii U messaging, and then talks about his time on the board of GameStop and why he was so frustrated by the company's current leadership. This interview was recorded before the recent layoffs at GameStop and Game Informer.

00:00:00 - Intro
00:01:10 - Reggie Fils-Aimé on Disrupting the Game's reception
00:03:36 - Why Reggie doesn't want to surface more Nintendo history
00:07:27 - His crash course on Nintendo's internal challenges
00:10:24 - The relationship between Nintendo of America and Kyoto
00:13:06 - The power of Nintendo's management committee
00:17:13 - The importance of having the final say on marketing
00:20:07 - Why isn't Netflix on Nintendo Switch?
00:21:46 - Nintendo's relationship with developers like Vicarious Visions
00:25:51 - Steven Spielberg and BoomBlox
00:27:11 - Understanding Shigeru Miyamoto "The Showman"
00:29:43 - Why Nintendo stopped working with Monster Games
00:31:35 - Messaging using two GamePads on the Wii U
00:33:35 - The origins of the Nintendo Switch
00:35:08 - Reggie's thoughts on the bottomless questions about Nintendo
00:37:13 - E3 2023 "vs" Geoff Keighley's Summer Game Fest
00:38:55 - Why he was so frustrated with GameStop's management
00:41:20 - Reggie's thoughts on Game Informer (recorded before the layoffs)
00:43:23 - His plans for a documentary

MinnMax: When you first revealed the Wii U, everybody was asking you - can we use multiple Wii U GamePads? And eventually, it was interesting, because the messaging just came out and you [Nintendo] all said "yeah, yeah, absolutely you can, here we go"...and it was never asked again, and it was never implemented as far as I know...what was that like from your perspective?
Reggie: Well, what was interesting is that with the Wii U, there was a full development plan for all of the interesting interactions and all of the interesting capabilities that the system could do, and so in that case, technically could multiple GamePads communicate with a Wii U? Answer was "yes", but the install base never got large enough that that type of implementation made sense. And most importantly the company didn't create a game where you needed another GamePad in order to have a great experience, the development just never proceeded and the lifespan of the Wii U ended up being so short, that it just never came to pass...in order for those initiatives to come to life (at least from Nintendo's perspective) there needs to be a game that drives that implementation that enables the player to see why you would need a second GamePad as an example, and that game creation process is just so critical.
 

Rat Rage

Member
00:13:06 - The power of Nintendo's management committee
Basically what most people already know. It basically confirms that Nintendo Japan still views and treats any other Nintendo subsidiary as just a marketing extension with very little to no decision making power. It's probably also because of a simple lack of communication capabilities, as most of the people at NOJ don't speak English, let alone other languages.
00:29:43 - Why Nintendo stopped working with Monster Games (Answer: he doesn't know)
Nintendo are fucking morons for not having continued working with Monster Games. I would love to know what actually happend.
 
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I'll check this out tomorrow when driving. It sucks about the Wii U, I can imagine the potential for couch multiplayer with everyone having their own personal screen.

I remember an old Penny Arcade comic.
 

StreetsofBeige

Gold Member
00:13:06 - The power of Nintendo's management committee
Bascially what most people already know. It bascially confirms that Nintendo Japan still views and treats any other Nintendo subsidiary as just a marketing extension with very little to no decision making power. It's probably also because of a simple lack of communication capabilities, as most of the people at NOJ don't speak English, let alone other languages.
Based on limited examples in real life, I think that is Asian electronics companies in general. Iron fisted power struggle.

I have friends who have worked at Nintendo, Samsung and LG Canada and head office in Korea or Japan call the shots. They got to get on conference calls with Asian people half the world away to tell them what's going on, where the local Canadian bosses have virtually zero power to control their own office.

I've worked at US and European head quartered companies (not electronics) and have never seen such heavy handed bossing around.
 

Serouj2000

Member
00:13:06 - The power of Nintendo's management committee
Basically what most people already know. It basically confirms that Nintendo Japan still views and treats any other Nintendo subsidiary as just a marketing extension with very little to no decision making power. It's probably also because of a simple lack of communication capabilities, as most of the people at NOJ don't speak English, let alone other languages.
00:29:43 - Why Nintendo stopped working with Monster Games (Answer: he doesn't know)
Nintendo are fucking morons for not having continued working with Monster Games. I would love to know what actually happend.
Hilariously enough, the president being one of the exceptions
 

ManaByte

Gold Member
Based on limited examples in real life, I think that is Asian electronics companies in general. Iron fisted power struggle.

I have friends who have worked at Nintendo, Samsung and LG Canada and head office in Korea or Japan call the shots. They got to get on conference calls with Asian people half the world away to tell them what's going on, where the local Canadian bosses have virtually zero power to control their own office.

I've worked at US and European head quartered companies (not electronics) and have never seen such heavy handed bossing around.
I don’t know how it works now in the Jimbo era, but during the PS2 and PS3 days Tokyo controlled almost everything with the PS. Firmware updates were entirely controlled by Tokyo and if there ever was a problem with one (which happened right after TLOU released) it could take up to a week to get fixed because the US arm was helpless while waiting on Tokyo.
 

StormCell

Member
Based on limited examples in real life, I think that is Asian electronics companies in general. Iron fisted power struggle.

I have friends who have worked at Nintendo, Samsung and LG Canada and head office in Korea or Japan call the shots. They got to get on conference calls with Asian people half the world away to tell them what's going on, where the local Canadian bosses have virtually zero power to control their own office.

I've worked at US and European head quartered companies (not electronics) and have never seen such heavy handed bossing around.
The one company who gave a little power to their American branch is now strictly publishing software.

But I do wish that Nintendo would listen to their offices in bigger markets. As great as Switch has been, I'm beyond frustrated as a diehard Nintendo fan who has been waiting for some of their bigger software releases. There's simply not enough of the kind of Nintendo games that I love coming from this company -- the bigger problem is they probably don't even see it as a problem because their titles are evergreen and just keep printing money for them.
 

marquimvfs

Member
I am the only one here who thinks Reggie is a fucking idiot? Nintendo of America isn't a company, it's a localization/overseas marketing arm of a multinational company, based in Japan. He always show up on interviews bragging about not having enough power to do things the way he wanted, while still overemphasizing the megasupersmart decisions that he made... Well, guess what, that's how it works on every multinational, the Headquarters always call the shots. Fuck Reggie, again. I hate the guy, will say this in every thread he's quoted.

Edit:
I love Nintendo. Really.
 
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jigglet

Member
I am the only one here who thinks Reggie is a fucking idiot? Nintendo of America isn't a company, it's a localization/overseas marketing arm of a multinational company, based in Japan. He always show up on interviews bragging about not having enough power to do things the way he wanted, while still overemphasizing the megasupersmart decisions that he made... Well, guess what, that's how it works on every multinational, the Headquarters always call the shots. Fuck Reggie, again. I hate the guy, will say this in every thread he's quoted.

Edit:
I love Nintendo. Really.

There are many examples of where the best product doesn’t win. Hell, you could say that’s the case 90% of the time. To dismiss good marketing is to assume consumers only buy the very best on offer. That’s not how the world works.
 

marquimvfs

Member
There are many examples of where the best product doesn’t win. Hell, you could say that’s the case 90% of the time. To dismiss good marketing is to assume consumers only buy the very best on offer. That’s not how the world works.
And how that's related to what I've said? I said that Reggie is an idiot, not that Nintendo is always right. They are not. But Reggie sound like an unsatisfied employee that was cut loose and is exaggerating in it's job interview in another company.
 

TexMex

Member
I used to back them on Patreon. They’re not horrible but the Podcast is really my least favorite of the ones in my rotation. But I like Ben a lot, and these one of interviews are always great. Check them all out on the channel not just the Reggie one.
 

StormCell

Member
I am the only one here who thinks Reggie is a fucking idiot? Nintendo of America isn't a company, it's a localization/overseas marketing arm of a multinational company, based in Japan. He always show up on interviews bragging about not having enough power to do things the way he wanted, while still overemphasizing the megasupersmart decisions that he made... Well, guess what, that's how it works on every multinational, the Headquarters always call the shots. Fuck Reggie, again. I hate the guy, will say this in every thread he's quoted.

Edit:
I love Nintendo. Really.
Yeah, you probably are.

And how that's related to what I've said? I said that Reggie is an idiot, not that Nintendo is always right. They are not. But Reggie sound like an unsatisfied employee that was cut loose and is exaggerating in it's job interview in another company.
I believe your incredible bias prevents you from seeing reality. For starters, Reggie wasn't let go. He is retired. Additionally, the company holds Reggie in high esteem for the tremendous work that he did when he came on board. The scope of the work he did was not confined solely to Nintendo of America. As EVP of marketing, he had a great deal of work to do in Japan as well. When they hired Reggie, they weren't just hiring some dude to handle the marketing in America but hiring the man who convinced America to "gather around the good stuff." I mean, do you even recognize who Reggie Fils-Aime is? Nintendo was not his first stop, and Pizza Hut was not his first time rounding the bases as chief of marketing. He's got Panda Express, Pizza Hut, and modern day Nintendo on his wall of accomplishments. Just maybe his marketing was successful.

Reggie was fundamentally important to Nintendo's brand image change in America, and believe it or not the Nintendo Wii did not remove all of the stigma surrounding Nintendo's brand. However, today, you will find very little stigma around the brand. If you remember the GameCube, then you surely remember that being a public supporter of the little purple box came with a lot of bullying from other fanboys and seemingly even the developers. It was not a good time to be Nintendo.
 
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Rykan

Member
And how that's related to what I've said? I said that Reggie is an idiot, not that Nintendo is always right. They are not. But Reggie sound like an unsatisfied employee that was cut loose and is exaggerating in it's job interview in another company.
I've read his book. He might have had a much bigger influence on Nintendo's success than you might realize. Bundling the wii with Wii sports? He pushed for that. That brilliant Wii ad campaign? That was him too.
 

StormCell

Member
I've read his book. He might have had a much bigger influence on Nintendo's success than you might realize. Bundling the wii with Wii sports? He pushed for that. That brilliant Wii ad campaign? That was him too.
Nintendo of Japan were not even receptive to the idea, and that is a brilliant example and accomplishment of why they promoted him to President of NoA. His similar work in sales and marketing helped to catapult the Nintendo DS to record sales. It's not like Reggie woke up one day and got promoted to president.

And I'm not convinced the Wii would have sold nearly as well without the little piece of software that alone made it worth the purchase for everyone from parents of small children, to grandparents, to assisted and retirement homes! Reggie understood the North American market in a way that Japan seemingly couldn't.

It's worth mentioning that Reggie worked at Nintendo for 19 years. You don't see that much anymore in the US. I can't see Nintendo keeping, much less promoting, an idiot around for 19 years and making him the defacto president of their largest market.
 
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His departure from Nintendo was probably the only time I ever cared about such things. He was synonymous with Nintendo for me, even more so than Miyamoto because as an American he was much more visible and I don't speak Japanese. I wish him well.
 

Dream-Knife

Member
I am the only one here who thinks Reggie is a fucking idiot? Nintendo of America isn't a company, it's a localization/overseas marketing arm of a multinational company, based in Japan. He always show up on interviews bragging about not having enough power to do things the way he wanted, while still overemphasizing the megasupersmart decisions that he made... Well, guess what, that's how it works on every multinational, the Headquarters always call the shots. Fuck Reggie, again. I hate the guy, will say this in every thread he's quoted.

Edit:
I love Nintendo. Really.
No, I never liked him either. Reggie is a corporate suit that acts like he was Nintendo's savior when he really didn't do shit. He also talked shit about Nintendo core fanbase during the wii.

All the reddit soyboys love him.
 
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