The gaming world was rocked today by the news that Reggie Fils-Aime has decided to retire as President of Nintendo of America after almost 16 years with the company.
It’s an announcement that has stunned the Nintendo fanbase and left us wondering whether Nintendo will ever be the same again.
Normally, a video game company executive retiring isn’t that big of a deal. In a world where even the creators of some of the most beloved games of all-time may be able to pass through a crowd of fans without being recognized, the idea of a company president who didn’t even help start that company being such a big deal is truly unique.
Yet, that’s exactly what Reggie Fils Aime was. What you need to understand was that there was a time when being a Nintendo fan felt like a health hazard. The N64 had been successful, but it was also plagued with issues. The same was true of the GameCube which sported a lot of great games but seemed to confirm that Nintendo was hopelessly behind the times.
Then came Reggie. When Reggie took the stage during Nintendo’s 2003 E3 presentation (remember those) and said “My name is Reggie. I’m about kickin’ ass, I’m about takin’ names, and we’re about makin’ games,” he genuinely stunned Nintendo fans and gamers everywhere. Nobody had heard a Nintendo representative outside of Miyamoto be so personable and energetic, and nobody from Nintendo had ever been so bold.
Reggie not only made people care about Nintendo again; he made them want to be as passionate about the company as he clearly was. He gave the company a shot in the arm and made Nintendo’s American division feel more important than ever before.
No, we can’t attribute Nintendo’s success with the Wii and DS to Reggie unless we’re also willing to pin the failures of the 3DS and Wii U on him as well, but regardless of which devices Nintendo was selling, they could always rely on Reggie to give it his all when it came to selling it. His enthusiasm made the best of Nintendo times that much more enjoyable, and his sense of humor, genuine love for his job, and personable nature made even the darkest Nintendo days seem like a passing phase.
It probably does seem silly to think that so many gamers will be saddened by a corporate executive stepping away from the company, but to many, Reggie was more than that. He was a fan who so happened to find himself near the top of a company that is as synonymous with gaming as any other. He would go on talk shows, podcasts, and internet videos not just to promote, but because he genuinely loved talking about Nintendo with other fans.
At present, Doug Bowser will serve as Reggie’s replacement, and he is (by all accounts) an excellent choice who will pick up where Reggie left off. Yet, you’re forgiven for thinking Nintendo will never quite be the same without Reggie at the helm. He is, after all, the one guy that embodies the excitement that comes with every Nintendo release, announcement, and even corporate decision.