Reggie Fils-Aime retired as the president of Nintendo America earlier this year, and was replaced in the role by Doug Bowser. Fils-Aime has been busy since, starting his own Twitter account and taking up the position of Leader in Residence at Cornell Dyson. Now, in a new interview with GameDaily.biz, Fils-Aime has opened up further about his retirement, and how the passing of a dear friend and coworker led to him thinking about what it would mean to step away from Nintendo.
In the article, Fils-Aime reflects on his friendship with former Nintendo president Satoru Iwata, who tragically passed away in 2015. He says that he began thinking about retirement not long after Iwata passed: not out of sadness, but because Iwata’s legacy had him thinking about his own. “It just reinforces how fleeting our existence is,” he says. “It also reinforced for me the legacy that he had built, and he had created for the company…I would say that event certainly crystallized for me the importance and motivated me to be clear and intentional in what I wanted to do. “
Fils-Aime stepped away from the company as it is doing well, with Switch sales going strong and Nintendo games reviewing well. Fils-Aime says that it was important to go out on top, so as to ensure that the company was in a good position for whoever took over, and his legacy would be a good one. “The business needed to be healthy and set for positive performance and the organization needed to be ready, and those two came together earlier this year.”
Speaking further on the professional relationship he had with Iwata, Fils-Aime provides an emotional account of how close the two men were. “We would talk all the time. He was gracious in sharing his perspective. He was tremendously accommodating in hearing a unique point of view from me, a person who had no history in the video game business other than as a player. But [he valued] my perspective because I brought a consumer sensibility. I brought a Western business sensibility. And the relationship that he and I had for almost 11 years, it was truly special and just, his openness with me and the things that we were able to do truly together, were just magical.”
Elsewhere in the interview, Fils-Aime said that, despite receiving some offers, he has no interest in running another company. Citing a “10 plus billion dollar business” that invited him to come and run a part of it, he says that he’d rather not. “It’s firmly reinforced for me that I want to be in the advisory and consulting role versus running another business. If I wanted to continue running a business, I would have done that.”