Nintendo is a company built on the talents of many, many individuals, but some of its past and current employees are more important than others.
Hiroshi Yamauchi, former president of Nintendo, guided the firm from its core playing card and board game business into the wacky world of interactive entertainment and was responsible for turning the Kyoto company into the powerhouse it is today. The late Gunpei Yokoi made the Game & Watch and Game Boy, generating millions of dollars in revenue and cementing Nintendo's status as the king of the portable gaming market.
And then there's Shigeru Miyamoto, the many responsible for Nintendo's first genuine video game hit – Donkey Kong – and some of its most enduring franchises, such as Zelda, F-Zero and Super Mario. Miyamoto has stepped away a little from hands-on game development in recent years but is still actively involved with the production of Nintendo's lead titles, offering advice and feedback to ensure the games are as good as they can be.
But what happens when Miyamoto finally decides he's had his fill and retires? That's a question that CNBC put to a selection of Nintendo fans and market analysts in its recent "Rise of Nintendo" report. What shape will the company take once its golden boy has hung up his boots?
Johnathan Mann, the creator of the Mario Opera, thinks the company is in good hands:
People like to say that Shigeru Miyamoto is like the Walt Disney of Nintendo; in many ways, Nintendo is Miyamoto and Miyamoto is Nintendo. They're so interlocked. Whether or not Nintendo can survive without Miyamoto is a bit like asking if Apple can survive without Steve Jobs. It's the same level of importance to the company, so using that as a framework, I would say the answer is yes; Miyamoto has infused so much of his DNA into the company.
Amir Anvarzadeh, Japan equity market strategist at Asymmetric Advisors, is equally bullish about Nintendo's future once Miyamoto moves aside:
Miyamoto-san has obviously been a driving force of the gaming business initially for Nintendo, but Nintendo has a very deep bench; Nintendo has a very, very strong development base.
However, Alex Handy, founder and director of The Museum of Art and Digital Entertainment, has some reservations about Nintendo's ability to replace someone of Miyamoto's talent:
I think that some of the talent they have is once-in-a-generation talent and can never be replaced, so I wonder what happens to a post-Shigeru Miyamoto Nintendo.
What do you think? Has Miyamoto helped shape a company that can survive without his skills and knowledge? Do you perhaps feel that he gets too much credit for Nintendo's success? What will the company look like once Miyamoto stands down and isn't on hand to provide advice and guidance? Let us know with a comment.