Saluting Reggie

A sendoff for everyone’s favorite Nintendo executive!

By Robert Marrujo. Posted 02/22/2019 07:30 Comment on this     ShareThis

Is it weird to feel misty about a corporate executive retiring? I ask because that’s how I felt when Nintendo of America President Reggie Fils-Aimé announced his departure from the company— I was a little sad. I write about video games and can honestly only think of a handful of executives from any of Nintendo’s distinguished competition. The ones I can think of are, frankly, just faces in blazers. Nintendo’s management is different. At least, it has been different since 2004 when Reggie introduced himself to Nintendo fans around the world.

It was at E3 when Reggie made his public debut, declaring “My name is Reggie. I’m about kickin’ ass, I’m about takin’ names, and we’re about makin’ games.” The classic line was a true rallying call for Nintendo and truly set the tone for who Reggie was and what he would bring to the table. Reggie started off as the executive vice president of sales and marketing in 2003, at which time he began climbing the ranks, eventually being named president of NoA in 2006. During his time at Nintendo, Reggie oversaw the launch of Wii, 3DS, Wii U, and Switch.

It was a remarkable career, one that saw Nintendo transition from arguably its darkest period during the GameCube era and on to a roller coaster of mostly ups in the time since then. Still, if all the story was about is how successful Nintendo has been with Reggie helping to steer the ship, there wouldn’t be much to say. Lots of executives step in and do their jobs well. Reggie was different. He wasn’t just good at what he did. Reggie was a legitimate part of the Nintendo family.

Reggie, the late Satoru Iwata, and Shigeru Miyamoto formed a fabulous trio, thanks in no small part to their involvement in Nintendo Direct broadcasts. Between their appearances on the E3 stage and Nintendo Directs, the three men offered a new side of the company that fans had never seen before. Nintendo became funny. Quirky. Daring. Nintendo was so on fire during this period that it eventually decided to stop doing a traditional stage presentation at E3. The fact that the company could get away with such an omission is owed as much to the ubiquity of the Internet and smartphones as it is to those three titanic personalities. Nintendo decided that the party comes to it, not the other way around… and it was true.

Reggie in particular really helped to sell this “new” Nintendo. So-called core fans can say what they want about Wii, but there’s no denying how wildly successful that console was. It signaled a major sea-change for Nintendo’s philosophies as a hardware and software maker. It was at this point that Nintendo bowed out of the digital arms race that Sony and Microsoft are still embroiled in. The move was a real shot across the bow of both those two competitors in that Nintendo basically declared that neither Sony nor Microsoft were in the same universe, let alone orbit. Nintendo had relegated the pair to something beneath its attention and declared that it had its own mission statement and agenda separate from the PlayStations and Xboxes of the world.

Talk about having chutzpah. Yet, that’s what Reggie’s time as president has been all about. Guts. Nerve. Swagger. It hasn’t been perfect, of course. Wii U fell flat on its face, but beyond that brief blemish, it’s been a veritable gravy train for Nintendo both here and back home in Japan. It’s not to say that Reggie is single-handedly responsible for the company’s good fortunes, but rather that it was his presence alongside Iwata and Miyamoto that helped to make it all possible. Reggie made Nintendo feel less monolithic. Reggie gave Nintendo some warmth and humanity at just the right time.

Reggie hasn’t ever necessarily felt like “one of the fans,” but he’s also never come across as a stuffed suit, either. Reggie is affable, he’s funny (in a restrained sort of way), and he brought a playfulness to his role that quickly endeared him to fans. In all these years with Reggie at the helm, there have been a lot of great games and moments to appreciate. It’s impossible to pretend that a corporation, even one as beloved as Nintendo, genuinely cares about its fans as anything other than customers, but Reggie was able to create a sense that, if nothing else, there was at least one person who might have their backs. In an industry that has quite a few obnoxious and insincere personalities, Reggie stood out as someone who might truly be as genuine as his on-screen persona.

Thanks for the good times, Reggie. If anyone’s earned a happy, peaceful retirement, it’s you. Incoming president Doug Bowser has some big shoes to fill… but with a name like Bowser, there’s a good chance he’s got the right sized feet for the job.

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