Reggie Fils-Aime reveals how Satoru Iwata's death influenced his retirement

In a recent interview regarding his legacy at Nintendo and the future of leadership, Reggie Fils-Aime revealed how Satoru Iwata's death galvanized his thoughts about retirement.

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There’s no doubt that when it comes to Nintendo, it's leadership has had the most prolific of impacts on the gaming community. When former Nintendo President Satoru Iwata passed unexpectedly in 2015, it shook Nintendo fans across the globe. When Nintendo of America President Reggie Fils-Aime suddenly announced his retirement in 2019, the world was again shocked. Interestingly enough, Fils-Aime revealed in a recent interview that it was Iwata’s death that fueled his plan to retire.

In an interview with GamesDaily.biz posted on December 2, 2019, Reggie Fils-Aime had a lot to say about legacy and the future of business and leadership. After all, following his retirement and passing of duties to now President Doug Bowser, Fils-Aime immediately returned to his Alma Mater at Cornell University to act as their Dyson’s First Leader in Residence in which he’d actively share his business learnings and help shape the next generation of leaders. However, it was also during this interview that he revealed just how much of an impact Satoru Iwata’s death had on his thoughts about retirement and his lasting impression.

As a mentor to Fils-Aime, Reggie revealed that Iwata's passing had more than an emotional effect on him. It also made him think fully about what he would leave behind when he was done.
As a mentor to Fils-Aime, Reggie revealed that Iwata's passing had more than an emotional effect on him. It also made him think fully about what he would leave behind when he was done. [Image by David McNew / Getty Images]

“In terms of really thinking about legacy at Nintendo, it became crystal clear to me with the passing of my dear friend Satoru Iwata,” Reggie revealed. “It just reinforces how fleeting our existence is. It also reinforced for me the legacy that he had built, and he had created for the company. And that really drove me to be introspective around, ‘So what's the legacy that I want to build, that I want to leave?'”

According to Fils-Aime, while Iwata’s death turned the cogs of his own introspection about legacy and his exit from the scene, he refused to leave without knowing that Nintendo was in a good place and that he’d given it everything it needed to continue to operate successfully.

“In terms of the timing,” Fils-Aime continued. “The business needed to be healthy and set for positive performance and the organization needed to be ready, and those two came together earlier this year. So, that's what drove the timing [for my retirement].”

With the Nintendo Switch having been his last launch before his exit, there's little doubt that Reggie left Nintendo in a winning position for the long haul.
With the Nintendo Switch having been his last launch before his exit, there's little doubt that Reggie left Nintendo in a winning position for the long haul. [Image by Nintendo]

Indeed, Reggie went out with a bang as Nintendo banked (and still continues to as of this writing) on the ongoing success of the Nintendo Switch and the new generation of games and technology that have come with it. Fils-Aime left on a positive note to say the least, and the audience reaction to his exit floored him.

“The reaction to [my retirement] video, the fact that across a variety of different platforms – last time I checked, it's been viewed over 10 million times.” Fils-Aime claimed. “That right there framed the community reaction, the passion, which I have to say was not expected [and] is certainly gratifying. As we've continued and as I launched my @Reggie Twitter, seeing the reaction there, the feedback to posts and just how the community wants to hear from me, has also been tremendously gratifying.”

It’s unfortunate that the impact of Satoru Iwata’s death turned out to be a driving force behind Reggie’s exit from Nintendo. That said, one thing is pretty clear: Fils-Aime put the feelings of that tragedy into deeper commitment to the gaming community and went out on top as his lasting legacy.

[Featured image by Nintendo]

News Editor

TJ Denzer is a player with a passion for games that has dominated a lifetime. When he's not handing out beatdowns in the latest fighting games, exploring video game history, or playing through RPGs with his partner, he's searching for new food and drinks in the constant pursuit of good times with good people inside and outside the South Texas area. You can also find him on Twitter @JohnnyChugs.

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