Tatsumi Kimishima is the New President of Nintendo

Tatsumi Kimishima

Tatsumi Kimishima

In a company-wide restructuring following the tragic passing of Satoru Iwata earlier this year, Tatsumi Kimishima has been appointed the new global president of Nintendo.  Kimishima is certainly fit for the position as he already had 27 years of corporate experience at Sanwa Bank of Japan before becoming the Chief Financial Officer for The Pokemon Company in 2000.  He quickly rose through the ranks, becoming President of Pokemon USA Inc. in 2001 and President of Nintendo of America in 2002.  Prior to his recent promotion to global president, Kimishima had served as Managing Director of Nintendo Co., Ltd., as of April, 2013.  Given the fact that Kimishima is already 65, it seems unlikely that he is intended to hold the position for long and is serving as an interim president as Nintendo works to restructure itself.  Here’s hoping that Kimishima leads Nintendo down the best path he can in his time.

There have also been a number of role changes made for other executives around Nintendo.  General Manager of Finance Shigeyuki Takahashi has also been given the role of Supervisor of General Affairs Division and placed in charge of the Quality Assurance Department, and General Manager of Marketing Satoshi Yamato has been placed in charge of the Advertising Department.  However, the most interesting change is that Shigeru Miyamoto, the creator of Super Mario and The Legend of Zelda, and one of the lead developers of the Wii, Genyo Takeda, have been assigned the titles of Creative Fellow and Technology Fellow respectively.  The title of Fellow, according to Nintendo’s official statement, indicates a Representative Director with “advanced knowledge and extensive experience, and holds the role of providing advice and guidance regarding organizational operations in a specialized area”.  This is a new title within Nintendo’s corporate structure being put in place with this restructuring.  It’s an odd choice for a corporate title, and one has to wonder if this may be intended as a more hands-0ff, advisory position as these two industry veterans approach their respective retirements.  Then again, it may simply be another one of Nintendo’s quirky moments.  This restructuring seems to just be the first step as Nintendo prepares itself for the future.

Everyone Should Keep a Free-to-Play Checkbook

Just in case my numerous articles haven’t been enough to tip you off, I am currently obsessed with the free-to-play digital card game Hearthstone.  It’s a great game with a bright future that I’ve already put more time into than I care to count.  To date, I’ve put exactly $40 into the game, which is exactly as much as I would happily spend for an enjoyable budget title like this if it was being sold in retail.  Team Fortress 2 is another free-to-play game that I have lovingly poured hundreds of hours into, but no more than $5 in microtransactions at this point.  Pokemon Shuffle, which I recently reviewed, hasn’t cost me a dime.  Now, I want to ask how much you’ve spent on any given free-to-play game that you’ve enjoyed.  Have you put in $1o, $20, or maybe nothing at all?  Have you spent anywhere from $60 to even $100?  Have you carelessly spent thousands on a title that was supposedly free?  If you can’t give me an exact answer, give or take five to ten, then you have a problem.

I think that free-to-play is one of the greatest innovations that the gaming industry has had in the last generation.  It has undoubtedly been a boon for countless multiplayer games by lowering the barrier of entry and raising the active community.  Given that these types of games live and die entirely based on their player bases, this can save a game that may have otherwise fallen through the cracks and make the big games even bigger.  It’s also a godsend for avid gamers who can’t afford the latest systems and all the AAA releases.  Free-to-play opens up incredible new possibilities that leave everyone better off.  At least, it’s a great model when both sides are using it wisely.

The major downside of free-to-play models is their nasty habit of nickel-and-diming their players with microtransactions.  In some cases, it is the fault of the game developers.  Games like Marvel Heroes put up massive paywalls for getting the heroes you want to play as while never allowing you any inclination as to whether or not you’ll actually enjoy playing as that character outside of simple brand recognition.  Mobile apps like Super Monster Bros have purchase pop-ups for $100 in the diabolical hopes of scamming unsuspecting children.  These kinds of practices are certainly abhorrent, but they’re not the only ones responsible for some of the most outrageous purchases made through microtransactions.

Too often, players will spend frivolously on microtransactions with little regard as to how much they’re actually paying in the grand scheme of things.  With microtransactions being such small purchases, it’s far easier to spend without putting much thought into how much you’re actually getting out of your purchase.  Even when a game has the most generous business model to it, it’s easy to splurge on little things here and there.  Before you know it, you end up spending up to hundreds of dollars on the type of game that you could have just bought outright for only twenty.  With every free-to-play game that you play, you should keep track of every microtransaction you pay for to see the bigger picture of how much your spending.  Compare how much you’re spending on a free-to-play game with the fixed prices of other games and consider how much value you are really getting.  If the free-to-play game is strong-arming you into paying more, then that should be a sign that you should stop playing it.  There’s no shortage of free-to-play games that will treat you better and there are plenty of traditionally priced games that offer plenty of replayablity at a cheap price.

With all of that said, there’s no shame in intentionally spending a little extra on your favorite games.  Free-to-play should be seen as a system where you pay as much as you want for a game.  If you really love what the developers are doing, then by all means show your support with in-game purchases.  Honestly, my only regret with Team Fortress 2 is that I haven’t spent more on it at this point.  Also, it is your money and how much it’s really worth is going to be your choice.  My point is that we should all take responsibility when using these sorts of business models and know how much we’re investing into our hobbies.