By Richard Lynch
On July 11th, 2015 Satora Iwata, the fourth president of Nintendo, tragically passed away. That fact that his loss has been felt by so many people is a testament to his enduring impact and influence in the world of video games. He was the kind of corporate executive who would personally appear in semi-regular Nintendo Direct presentations, dressed as a cat. What else can really be said about him? There really are so few executives who are capable of laughing at themselves while smiling the whole way and that is what I’ll miss most about Iwata. He was able to bring a genuine human face to a multibillion dollar corporation in a time when gamers and game makers seem to constantly at each other’s throats.
The question on everybody’s mind now is “What will Nintendo do next?” We’ve all heard the opinion that Nintendo should go big in the mobile market by releasing their entire backlog on iOS or that they should go the way of SEGA, quit the console market altogether and become a dedicated developer/publisher. While I’ll be the first to admit that I’d be excited by the idea of playing the next Zelda on my Xbox, Nintendo just wouldn’t be Nintendo if they compromised their values in such dramatic ways.
In all likelihood Nintendo will remain on the same course that Iwata helped to set it on. There is no telling what this will mean for the future of the legendary company but based on the way they are going now, a worst case scenario, could see them continue to operate at their own pace ignoring all other trends in gaming as they slowly fade into the background before possibly disappearing entirely. But, on a more positive and in my opinion more likely note, Nintendo is filled with some of the most respected and beloved designers of all time. With people like Shigeru Miyamoto helping to craft the next generation of brilliant game developers at Nintendo, they will likely stay just ahead of the curve by making the sort of games that only they are able to make.
Now for a dream scenario. As unlikely as it is, I would like to see the most well known people like Miyamoto and Eiji Aonuma actually move on from Nintendo entirely. I know this sounds like a terrible idea but hear me out, Japanese games have been experiencing a huge shift over the last few years as some of the industry’s biggest names have left to form smaller independent companies. We’ve seen a number of successes on Kickstarter with Mega Man creator Keiji Inafune’s Might No. Nine and Koji Igarashi’s recently funded Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night. And even bigger projects like wonderfully deranged The Evil Within which was directed by Shinji Mikami the creator of the Resident Evil series. So, imagine a Miyamoto led Kickstarter made by a smaller team. Something like that has the potential to be truly special and different in ways we haven’t seen from Miyamoto in years. Regardless of what Nintendo does, they will continue to have the love and support of their fans and I think I can easily speak for all of them when I say, thank you Iwata, you will be deeply missed.