News Article

Iwata Says He Didn't Commit to Stepping Down Over Missed Profit Targets

Posted by Thomas Whitehead

So we should stop saying he will

Earlier this year we reported on translated comments from Satoru Iwata at a Corporate Management Policy Briefing, in which he made a personal commitment to Nintendo's target of 100 billion Yen of operating profit for this current financial year. It's a substantial target that was reiterated in Nintendo's end of year briefing in April, with a Wii U revival in later 2013/2014 and a strong year for 3DS targeted to deliver the result.

At the time, Satoru Iwata described it as a personal commitment, which was widely interpreted — sensibly considering the context — to mean that Nintendo's President was making the target an integral part of him retaining his post. After years of unparalleled success with the DS family of systems and the Wii, a first net loss last year and the missing of targets reported in April somewhat tainted that run, as Nintendo has struggled to maintain profitability in the face of slow starts for the 3DS — since revived — and Wii U.

It seems the assumption that Satoru Iwata would step down in the event of missing this year's targets are false, however, as he's been reported as making the following blunt statement in an investor's meeting.

I don't recall saying I'd resign.

So that's that. It was added, of course, that the company is working hard to achieve its operating profit goal; the hardware and software targets outlined earlier in the year seem feasible, but only if the upcoming Wii U game lineup delivers a significant upturn this Holiday season.

Are you relieved to hear that missing this profit target won't automatically prompt Satoru Iwata to step down? Let us know what you think in the comments below.

[via kotaku.com]

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User Comments (60)

Zyph

#4

Zyph said:

@ThomasBW84 Lol that's true. It's kinda frustrating that everybody just assumed he'd resign just because of the word "committed". I mean, it could mean a lot of things really.

tsm7

#5

tsm7 said:

Nintendo being a public company, it's not entirely up to him. He may he pushed out if the company continues to lose money.

banacheck

#9

banacheck said:

If certain goals are not met by the next financial year i'm afraid it's not Iwata decision wether he will be going or not.

TG1

#10

TG1 said:

"At the time, Satoru Iwata described it as a personal commitment, which was widely interpreted — sensibly considering the context — to mean that Nintendo's President was making the target an integral part of him retaining his post."

I don't think it was sensible interpretation to begin with. In any event, I'm not surprised.

ThomasBW84Admin

#11

ThomasBW84 said:

@TG1 I've never worked in a big business where that kind of comment didn't mean "we hit the target or I walk", and I saw plenty of bosses walk the plank! As a result executives rarely make those kind of comments :)

TG1

#12

TG1 said:

@ThomasBW84 That may be, but this is Nintendo we're talking about ... they tend to march to the beat of their own drum. ;)

gavn64

#14

gavn64 said:

@ThomasBW84 it was Nintendo life writer Damien who reported this in a story a while ago on this site saying that Iwata did in fact intimate he would resign over said quote and then when us readers challenged him in the comments he defended his dumb story.

please feel free to contact staff if you have problems with the editorial policies of NL. thanks. -k8smum

Gunnerholic

#16

Gunnerholic said:

I wish he would step down, as much as he is a pleasant enough fellow he's shifted Nintendo into an area where its sort of alienated old school gamers. I much preferred the Yamauchi era (Nes, Gameboy, SNES, N64, Gamecube) to Iwata's tenure thus far. I sort of feel that they aren't the Nintendo they once were and although the hardware is more innovative the games have suffered for it, I didn't really get on with the Wii and its motion controls, I like the Wii U but right now the software isn't taking advantage of its features, then again it could be nostalgia talking :/

AaronB

#17

AaronB said:

Glad to hear it. The 3DS is doing very well, and the Wii U has a killer upcoming lineup. It will be too early to write off the Wii U until at least the end of 2014.

LavaTwilight

#18

LavaTwilight said:

I am relieved and I seem to remember commenting at the time I don't think he said he'd resign... or I could've just thought it and kept my mouth/keyboard shut. O well, good times are still ahead with Iwata in charge!

Akira_1975

#19

Akira_1975 said:

Dear God, an organization will have a good and bad times. Nintendo will not always be on fire. The Wii U has only been out for 6 months and people are acting like it's the end of Nintendo as we know it. I like Iwata and I hope he never steps down.

element187

#20

element187 said:

Pretty funny to see Iwata's detractors claiming he said something that he didn't.

I remember this conversation happening on one of those Neo sites, where the thread title said Iwata will resign if Ninty doesn't hit its goals.... but nobody could produce the quote where he actually said that.

The only people perpetrating this nonsense were the people who constantly criticize him, so its not surprising they would have terrible reading and comprehension skills that show their extreme biases.

Personally, I think Iwata isn't doing terrible. He nailed the DS and the Wii, the 3DS while a rough launch looks like its going to be quite successful, and if he can turn around the Wii U's rough launch, then he more than deserves to remain at his position.

element187

#21

element187 said:

@banacheck thats not the point. the point is people were trying to put those words in his mouth because they want him gone, not because he a made a commitment to leave if they miss their targets.... its wishful thinking on the part of his detractors.

While shareholders can force a CEO out, the likelyhood of that happening is pretty slim with the 3DS on such a roll, DS and Wii being break out hits, and while the Wii U looks dire for the first half of the year, things could really pick up by years end for the console, and he would vindicated on his strategy, of course mistakes happen, but being able to correct those mistakes quickly should help him retain his job........ I really don't see shareholders throwing him out because of one bad launch.

Emblem

#22

Emblem said:

@Zyph lol perfectly put.

I like Iwata and its premature to expecting him to resign over the lack of Wii U success so far. When both both Xbone and PS4 fail to meet their targets people will realise the console market is shrinking and Wii U's slow start wasn't so bad after all.

Blue-Thunder

#23

Blue-Thunder said:

@Gunnerholic
I didn't know how to say it but you put it perfectly. I'd say the Wii U would have to be a totally flop first, then he would be under pressure.

gavn64

#24

gavn64 said:

NINTENDO stock went up 4 and a'half points today as well... just saying :)

DerpSandwich

#26

DerpSandwich said:

Good. This whole trend of throwing yourself into the volcano to appease the mighty shareholders it garbage.

unrandomsam

#27

unrandomsam said:

Yeah it was a braindead interpretation by western media. If he was going to do that he would have stated explicitly so. (You cannot expect a respectable Japanese company to behave in the same way as scumbag western ones. They generally mean exactly what they say (and nothing more or implied)).

DestinyMan

#28

DestinyMan said:

He never did say anything like that! That was just assumed by his critics and even some game news sites like here on NL. His response to the question of if Nintendo would miss it's goals was simply a "failure is not an option" one.

I like how he was blunt about it.

moroboshi

#29

moroboshi said:

Iwata seems like a very nice guy, but someone might have to take the blame for the spectacular failure that is the Wii U. It's making the GameCube look like a glorious success.

There must be some pretty stressful meetings going on in Kyoto now. Who made the decision to build a current gen console when the current generation was 8 years old, has seen declining sales for years, and is about to be replaced? Who thought bundling a massive super low end tablet would appeal to gamers? Why has the system lost most of it's third party support, with the little that remains on the way out? And why was the Wii U given so little advertising time, and the few ads that were aired, were all awful...

It's a train wreck and there can't be any but the most die hard of fans who think it can be salvaged. Nintendo of course, has plenty of money in the bank, and the 3DS is doing well enough in Japan to stay afloat for a while. Long term though, things need to change at Nintendo, and I bet they'll follow SEGA into becoming a software only dev within a 2-3 years.

hydeks

#30

hydeks said:

Why would he resign? I like Iwata, he's like serious looking all the time, but yet has his funny lil' quirks :P

On another note (sort of), I just bought my Wii U finally! Zombi U Deluxe Set, Assassin's Creed 3, Nintendo Land, and Darksiders 2!! Yay, only one Nintendo game, scary, I know. I hope more people get a Wii U and support Nintendo :)

unrandomsam

#31

unrandomsam said:

The Wii U is not a spectacular failure. (The same critics were saying the 3DS was a spectacular failure as well).

The other consoles seem to have forgotten what makes stuff fun and worth playing. (Even when they reboot or make a sequel to a series they lose everything that was good about it in the first place. Raiden 4 / Rocket Knight / and countless others they should have just done arcade ports of the best ones). Nintendo seems to make most things too easy and no longer knows how to make 2D Mario games but they are far better than anyone else.

The Saturn / PC Engine are the consoles I should have had in those generations I was younger then and didn't know what I liked yet. I know for a fact that the PS3/360 have nothing for me. (I have even bought most of the games for next to nothing on Steam and hated them. But they are so cheap it is worth checking).

Tatio should make a console based on their current arcade hardware. (Use SSD's for the games). That is the only console would be interested in enough to pay a premium rate for.

WiiULoveSquid

#32

WiiULoveSquid said:

People are so extreme in their tastes and reactions. One minute it's all "Hahaha it prints money!" the next it's "bad launch? Fire his @$s, he's a bad businessman".

Want Nintendo to stay Nintendo? Iwata is certainly a long time Nintendo fan and gear in that company. But some folks will always want to take a "well let's just shake it up and see what happens" approach. Especially media types. An even keel does not make for good news.

unrandomsam

#33

unrandomsam said:

@moroboshi Nintendo are not like SEGA was (The Saturn and 32X + Megadrive + Mega CD combo are pretty much identical then they released the Dreamcast 2 years later again). Sega as they are now are a waste of space. The only skills they still seem to have left is making arcade style racing games (Fzero GX was great). Most of the time they just publish other peoples garbage. Might be they still have loads of debt to pay then they might start innovating again but I doubt it. SEGA was reckless Nintendo never has been (They have been cheap fairly often in order to increase their profits.)

(MS and Sony both lost billions this generation. Sony to force through its proprietary format (Blu Ray) and MS because it needs to branch out.)

SCAR392

#34

SCAR392 said:

Ya, that whole thing was nonsense in the first place like almost all of the doom and gloom.

Dogpigfish

#35

Dogpigfish said:

I read his statements and it was pure media buzz, nothing more. These haters always post articles saying 'Nintendo is dead' or 'Nintendo fails to sell' or ' Nintendo product is deeply underpowered' or 'Nintendo posts Wii U at $350 astronomical price'. More Media hub bub.

ShadJV

#36

ShadJV said:

Good. I mean, sure, he's made some mistakes, but I like Iwata and believe he will pull through. He knows the company well and probably is their best shot at turning things around for the Wii U.

NMH-TRI

#37

NMH-TRI said:

I thought everyone assumed that if Wii U launch failed that Iwata was going to perform Seppuku at the next investor's meeting. Oh well

I like Iwata and I want him to be head at Ninty for a long time. %50 pay cut during tough 3DS times. Name another company that you know has done that. I respect the way Nintendo handles their customers. I do not respect many western corporations/businesses due to the same reason.

rmeyer

#38

rmeyer said:

Even if they don't hit those numbers I feel that Iwata has become a more popular CEO compared to the competitors. He's certainly would be missed if he ever considered stepping down.

WildMan

#39

WildMan said:

I like Iwata a lot as a person, but I don't like the direction he has brought Nintendo.. They've kind of lost their magic that they had from the NES to Gamecube..

sinalefa

#40

sinalefa said:

@hydeks

Congrats on your new system! I hope you enjoy it. Maybe Lego City Undercover will interest you.

I like Iwata a lot, so I don't want to see him go, and it is hard to see a suitable replacement for him. People that want Nintendo back to the Yamauchi years seem to forget that the Gamecube was the third place console of its gen, sales wise.

NMH-TRI

#42

NMH-TRI said:

@hydeks ZombiU was definitely my favorite experience in a love/hate way. I made the mistake of playing in the dark, windows behind me open, and having to endure the noise that my blinds would make -_- Maybe I'm just a big wuss, but there were times I had to pause it and take a break.

I recommend getting a headset to play it...Ubi did a great job w/ this game's atmosphere :)

MH3U would also be a great addition if you're into that type of game.

NMH-TRI

#43

NMH-TRI said:

@moroboshi You've gotta be kidding me...

Before anything, Nintendo would be a portable only company. They aren't going to stop making consoles because of a poor launch. Sony didn't...Microsoft won't...and neither will Nintendo. I would bet that we'd see Sega/Nintendo merge before we ever saw Nintendo bow out of consoles.

Burning_Spear

#45

Burning_Spear said:

I think the suggestion that he would resign was just a reporter intentionally misinterpreting a comment. There was a little too much of that around here for a while.

timp29

#46

timp29 said:

Still Nintendo needs a kick up the bum for the marketing failures of 3DS and WiiU. The 3DS has turned around, which is fantastic, and Iwata can hold his head high on that.

But it is not a good look that Iwata said (paraphrasing) "We have learned from the mistakes of the 3DS launch and will not repeat them on the WiiU" and of course, they repeated the fundamental mistakes.

Still Iwata does plenty of great things for the company. Any boss who takes a pay cut to save company money has my vote.

Kirk

#47

Kirk said:

I do recall saying at the time when everyone was implying that's what he'd said that he never in fact actually said that at all.

He just said he was making it his personal responsibility to meet those targets.

Some people just put 2 and 2 together and got 5 is all.

Ren

#50

Ren said:

I don't care if he said he'd resign, but it'd be nice if he was let go. He's out of touch and the successes during his tenure were not on him. I don't really get how game designers are supposed to be good business people. The 3DS and Wii have been great but not utilized their marketing or release schedule/ team management to near their potential. I'm a Nintendo fan like everyone else here but lets be realistic about the greatness of the games/hardware and the weakness in the business strategy. last 2 consoles poorly timed/ promoted, and constant missed release dates. The Wii had the best launch ever due to the unique controller but fizzled out to lame 3rd party support and out of touch online features, bad marketing. Sure they're not tanking but they're also not nearly reaching their potential and it's all on him. Their too old fashioned to fire him unless he literally steals some money or something. Nintendo innovates in some design areas ONLY, not business strategy. It only looks like business innovation because they're stuck so far in the past that it seems intentionally odd.
seriously, the Wii would STILL be a force in gaming now if the online system wasn't so horribly managed. WiiU has inched forward in that regard. time for new leadership.

Zodiak13

#51

Zodiak13 said:

I think some restructuring of the yop management while keeping Iwata would be best. I don't think he should just no longer be a major part of the company, just also find someone that will have some real authority that will make changes that are needed. Keep someone who understands Nintendo's past and get someone to look toward the future with a fresh set of eyes.

Sceptic

#52

Sceptic said:

When did the old Samurai ethic of falling on your sword get replaced with sugarcoating your failures and playing gotcha with journalists? It seems Nintendo these days unites the worst of both Far-Eastern and Western leadership: Slow and stubborn meets self-infatuation and sugarcoating.

You don't 'commit' to stepping down when you fail. It's a consequence of your failure, and Iwata has racked up a whole book of those in the last year. Something has got to give.

cdawg

#54

cdawg said:

He may not want to quit but eventually he could be pushed out the way things are going.

Nintendo needs a radical change in direction. The cool from the NES, SNES and N64 days is long gone. Itawas approach alienated a lot of the core users who could have been loyal to the brand but moved on to other systems because Nintendo wasnt giving what they wanted. Its a cardinal sin.

Nintendo can remain the cost efficient console company but the lack of titles and the content of its library is completely unbalanced (kiddie games mostly). Nintendo cannot act as if they are not part of the gaming console industry which will only be kept alive by hardcore gamers because casuals are losing interest and have moved on to games on their mobiles.

Itawas model and direction are not the right ones and I think Nintendo will can him sooner or later. Hopefully a more western approach to the console will come in the next generation.

raghouse

#55

raghouse said:

Nintendo had been profitable for a very long time in an extremely competitive market. A couple down years is going to happen sooner or later.

The original Xbox had an overall operating loss. The Playstation 3 was a money loser for quite a while.

When the next set of consoles are released, Nintendo may actually benefit, as the lower development costs and a (expected) growing install base of the Wii U will be attractive for 3rd parties with good ideas but without the resources to make a competitive game on the PS4 or Xbox One.

Varia01

#57

Varia01 said:

Haha, it's like that point in an action movie where the hero is at a chance of his victory. Nintendo never gives up; they won't stop finding ways to entertain their consumers. Awesome! :)

Henmii

#60

Henmii said:

"Iwata Says He Didn't Commit to Stepping Down Over Missed Profit Targets"

Of course! It was some nonsense this site came up with!

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