GameStop has announced today in their press release that Reggie Fils-aime, former COO of Nintendo, has joined GameStop as a board director with effect from April 20th.
Now, people in executive suites joining or leaving companies isn’t exactly anything out of the ordinary, except that in this case, Reggie has to take up directorial duties in an official capacity, taking him directly out of retirement from his previous tenure at Nintendo.
Of course, as part of the news release, this move was stated to try and improve the profitability of the company as seen in the press statement below:
The Board refreshment and governance enhancements announced today represent an important milestone in GameStop’s transformation as we continue to evolve the Company’s business strategy for long-term success.
We are pleased to welcome Reggie, Bill and J.K. to the Board. They are each highly qualified and bring significant, relevant experience to our turnaround.
We look forward to immediately benefitting from their expertise and perspectives as we navigate the evolving gaming and retail environments, execute on our strategic initiatives and prepare the Company to maximize value-creation associated with the next generation of console launches later this year.George Sherman, GameStop CEO
“In what way?” one might ask. I think history is where we’ll have our answers.
Also, if today’s aftermarket trading of GameStop’s stocks were anything to make a point, stocks have gone back above the $4 USD line that dipped in the previous month in lieu of the announcement; an encouraging sign for the company that had its stock plummet to just 60% of the value year-to-date.
Assuredly, I’m inclined to think that Reggie doesn’t need any additional income from his position on the board of directors, not to mention the time he has to carve out from his retirement for his duties.
Something larger is definitely at work here; fans would remember the times in the early to mid 2000s where Nintendo was falling behind Microsoft and Sony in the GameCube-era; having been perceived as being too complacent in resting on their laurels to compete in the new century.
This was compounded a generation over when Sony was the one leading the charge on the innovation front, providing new experiences with new technologies as it became available for mass production (CDs with full FMVs! Woohoo!).
Now, Nintendo was never a top innovator in this regard (having failed with the Virtual Boy generations before), but their games were fun, well-crafted and not limited by their traditionally underpowered console in comparison to the competition. Nintendo was the first in the race to perfect controls in a 3D environment (a reminder that Sony had to bolt analogue sticks to their controllers after their initial PlayStation release) and made their games fun to experience by extension.
The GameCube, in comparison, had not much in that regard with waning 3rd party support (Seriously, Sega games were the only reason you’ll want to own a GameCube!) and very underpowered hardware that struggled with performance issues on blockbuster games, most notably, Resident Evil 4 back then.
Nintendo needed something to pull good PR from the company (Spoilers: It was Reggie).
Then E3 2004 rolled around with this particular conference (special mention to the well written Kotaku article here for a good sum-up) that had gamers stunned from Reggie’s bravado in introducing Nintendo’s new console with the introduction of the Wii, then-named “Revolution”, that has a new way to play games via motion control; for real this time!
My name is Reggie. I’m about kicking ass, I’m about taking names, and we’re about making games.Reggie Fils- Aime
Suddenly, in the short span of 2 to 3 years leading to the release of the Wii, Nintendo was back at the foothold of their own niche; providing new gaming experiences that made them stand out from the competition. Reggie put the Wii on the spotlight and delivered in selling the console to the masses, making it the 6th best selling console of all time with 101 million lifetime sales.
How about GameStop then? Well, it seems like they are in a similar situation right now as Nintendo did in 2004.
For those in the US, you’ll be familiar with the amount of anti-consumer practices that GameStop has been doing due to their domineering position as a retailer in the North American region. Policies such as not-very-incentivising incentives and massive profiteering off 2nd hand sales (like the below video would put it), Reggie certainly has a big hole to fill if they want to win back any good PR from gamers.
What better way could GameStop gain good PR by hiring the guy that helped propel Nintendo’s console to the 6th best selling console of all time that also bought in millions of casual fans in the gaming space?
While it’s good to see Reggie “My Body is ready” fils-aime being involved (in an official capacity) in the gaming space yet again, it remains to be seen if Reggie is actually leading the front on improving the public image of GameStop as a company and whether or not these ideas would translate into tangible results and policies that would benefit both GameStop and gamers alike.
Part of me thinks that Reggie has simply grown attached to the gaming community in some manner, and wants to, in his own way, make gaming better for everyone; Much like what Bill Gates is doing on the tech front. After all, who but Reggie would make a farewell video for retiring from his job?