Nintendo in midst of leadership switch
Nintendo is in the midst of a leadership change even as the Switch continues to enjoy runaway success.
After ascending to the role of CEO in 2015, following the unexpected death of Satoru Iwata, Tatsumi Kimishima announced this week that he's stepping down. His successor, Shuntaro Furukawa will take over leadership roles of the Japanese video game giant immediately. At 46, Furukawa will be the youngest person to lead Nintendo.
When Kimishima took over as CEO in 2015, he inherited a company in serious flux. The Wii U was a failure and the 3DS handheld was facing declining sales due to its aging lifespan. Nintendo was facing an unexpected future as development continued on Iwata's final project, the Nintendo NX, which would later come to be known as the Switch. He led the company through those dark times and through the launch of the Switch. Under his leadership, Nintendo has enjoyed a resurgence the likes of which it hasn't seen since the early days of the Wii more than a decade ago.
Kimishima's departure wasn't unexpected. He was never expected to take over the CEO position and mainly stepped in to ensure as little disruption as possible in the wake of Iwata's death. Despite the surprising success, he was never expected to remain in the position for long. But he's not retiring completely from Nintendo, and will instead take on a smaller role as an adviser to Furukawa. In his announcement, he said he's been eyeing the young executive for years.
Furukawa is a board member for Nintendo and The Pokemon Company. He's been a part of Nintendo since 1994. During that time, he's served as managing executive officer, supervisor of corporate analysis and administration and director. He brings a younger vision to a company that has often to its detriment been relatively set in its ways and adverse to change, despite its untraditional gaming offerings as of late.
The new CEO will inherit a company that is in the midst of a wave of success over the last year. The Switch has moved 17.79 million units since launch continuing to outpace the Wii when adjusted for launch. Nintendo did a good job of navigating its supply constraints during the first year and holiday season and now has a steady supply line to keep shelves stocked.
On the software front, the outlook is even better. The Switch's top selling game is "Super Mario Odyssey" with 10.41 copies sold since its October launch. It's one of the fastest selling "Mario" games in the franchise's long illustrious history. Just behind it sits "Mario Kart 8 Deluxe," which has moved 9.22 million copies since its May launch. Rounding out the console's top three software is "The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild" with 8.48 million copies sold, making it the best selling "Legend of Zelda" game since "Twilight Princess."