A report by Japanese business publication Nikkei suggests that Satoru Iwata is facing his sternest test yet as Nintendo CEO.
It has been revealed that Iwata's internal approval rating has dropped from from 92.89 percent in 2011 to 77.26 percent in 2013. This has led to speculation that he could be kicked off Nintendo's board of directors this June, when shareholders will vote to re-elect members of the board.
The report also addresses the growing concern from investors about Nintendo's apparent inability to find new areas of profit, with one Hong Kong investor stating that the company should be leveraging its enviable library of famous characters by bringing them to smartphones. According to Nikkei, Nintendo has simply replied: "are there any companies that make smartphone games while continually sustaining high profits?" The message is clear; going mobile doesn't instantly guarantee floods of cash — just ask Capcom.
Elsewhere in the report, another investor encourages Nintendo to exploit its characters in other ways, and a proposed plan to open a Nintendo theme park in Japan is touched upon — although it would appear that this has now been put on the back burner.
Nintendo isn't short of cash — its reserves sit at over 500 billion yen — but it has now posted three successive years of losses. The fiscal year ending March 31st, 2014 would suggest a loss of 35 billion yen, which is a tiny improvement from last year’s 36.4 billion yen loss.
It's clear that Iwata's position is under fire — if he were the CEO of a western company, chances are he would have been shown the door already. However, Japanese firms — and Nintendo in particular — seem keener to embrace stability. Even so, Nikkei has stated that this coming June will be a “June of trials” for the beleaguered CEO, starting with that all-important shareholder's vote.
Iwata has already stated that Nintendo is looking at fresh ways to sell its struggling Wii U console, and the recently announced "Quality of Life" platform will expand the company's empire beyond gaming.
We'll no doubt hear more by the time E3 rolls around, but in the meantime, do you think that the clock is ticking for Iwata? Is he in danger of losing his position at the head of Nintendo, or is 2014 the year when he will turn things around? Let us know with a comment.