Last week, Nintendo had its 76th Annual General Meeting of Shareholders, which happens every year in June. The transcript of the Q&A was posted in Japanese last week, but it’s now available with an official English translation on Nintendo’s website.
Here’s the various questions asked by investors, and some highlighted answers:
Q1: All the candidate directors are men. How does Nintendo plan to take into consideration the diversity of users with a male-only board of directors?
Here’s what Tatsumi Kimishima had to say on this matter:
First, regarding the fact that there are no women among the candidate directors, let me state that we choose directors who we believe can best help steer our company regardless of gender, age, or nationality. In addition, we do not intend to introduce a mandatory retirement system for our board members.
Our company has many female employees in active roles, and our overseas subsidiaries have many female staff members. Our management team is keen to absorb the opinions of those employees to develop products and run the company in ways that reflect both the female viewpoint and a global viewpoint.
As I mentioned, there are no women among the candidate directors this time, but we intend to do our utmost to foster greater participation of women for the future growth of Nintendo.
Q2: Does Nintendo have plans for VR? What about promoting younger staff to executive positions?
Here’s what Kimishima had to say about VR:
Kimishima: “We are well aware that other companies are developing games and game-related products using VR technologies, and that consumers are interested in all of this. I cannot say anything specific at this time, but understand that we also consider VR to be a promising technology, and we are conducting research with much interest.”
To increase corporate value, Nintendo is working on the following:
- focus on IP
- Quality of Life project
- the NX platform
About the younger executive officers, Tatsumi Kimishima totally dodged the question.
For Nintendo, this would have a negative impact on two fronts:
- foreign exchange losses due to the Yen becoming stronger against the € / £ / $, and this could end up having a negative impact on earnings;
- Nintendo has a subsidiary there, from where they sell goods. With the possible changes in tax systems, agreements, etc. this could have a negative impact for Nintendo.
Right now, the company is watching developments closely, in order to prepare the appropriate measures.
Q4: Why did it take two months for a new president to be selected, following Satoru Iwata’s death? What about Iwata Asks interviews? Will Nintendo launch a physical controller for smart devices in order to make action games for it?
Kimishima: “While he was still alive, [Satoru Iwata] gave Mr. Takeda, Mr. Miyamoto, and myself clear instructions to ensure that operations would proceed smoothly. While running the business based on his instructions, we took two months to carefully consider what would be the best organization to put in place, how best to take on new projects, and who would be the right person to be in charge of what.”
As for Iwata Asks, Tatsumi Kimishima explained that he didn’t have a developer background, so he wouldn’t be able to come up with interesting question.
Here’s what Shigeru Miyamoto added about the interviews:
The former President Mr. Iwata and I had talked about how the “Iwata Asks” section had fallen into a rut, and we will consider what format will best suit this type of content.
Finally, Shinya Takahashi’s answer implies that a Nintendo controllers for smartphones isn’t very likely:
[…] I believe Nintendo’s way of thinking is to look at whether action games are really not impossible (without a physical controller for smart device applications) to create and how we can make it happen to create such a game. I think we will make applications, and not just action games, in consideration of what best embodies “Nintendo-like” applications, including applications for everyone from children to seniors.
Kimishima: “In terms of what we have learned, we are still in the process of learning as we have only just started the smart device business a short while ago. We plan to deepen our analysis of the overall smart device business and continue this conversation in some form in the future.”
For Shinya Takahashi, what stands out the more is the response of users who do not have access to Nintendo platforms and who now can play with Mii.
Q6: This year’s business report was given as a recorded narration, unlike the previous years and presidents who did so with their own words. The shareholder asks if the current president (Tatsumi Kimishima) can be trusted to carry Nintendo because of that. He’s also disappointed by the candidate numbers indicated in front of the names of the candidates.
Q7: Question about Nintendo’s marketing strategy, with the shareholder worried that information about certain game only reaches dedicated gamer. He would like to see an effort to make certain games widely known, such as Tokyo Mirage Sessions #FE.
Here’s what Tatsumi Kimishima answered:
[…] The whole point of advertising is to convey information appropriately to consumers, so we cannot simply cut spending. With the progress of technology, advertising media and methods now go beyond television ads to include many different options. Those who come into contact with games for the first time are not that interested to start with, so for those types of people, I agree with you that we need to carefully consider our timing and approach
Q8: What about the “Development, manufacturing and sale of medical devices and health devices” mentioned in the new version of the Articles of Incorporation?
At first, Tatsumi Kimishima clarifies his comments about the Wii U (something he already did in the past). As for VR, he didn’t say anything really new (see above for his answer to the first question related to VR).
Then, Shigeru Miyamoto and Shinya Takahashi talked about the great reception of The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild at E3 2016.
Finally, Shigeru Miyamoto talked at great lengths about Nintendo’s stance on VR:
As for VR, we are researching not just VR but AR and many other technologies. We have a range of core technology including 3D, and we are also considering the possibility of implementing these in our own hardware development. For VR in particular, we are continuing our research, and looking into development with a mind to how our current core products are meant to be played for a relatively long period of time. We are looking into the possibilities of providing an experience that gives value when played for a short time, and how to eliminate the concerns of long-duration use. We are also looking into how to make sure that a parent doesn’t need to worry when their child puts on a VR device in their living room. At this year’s E3, I was on the show floor, and it did not feel like VR was that big of a topic. This could be because VR is not that much to look at for the spectator, even while it might be highly appreciated for the person actually experiencing it. It might also not be clear how the experience can be made into a product.
Q10: Investor asking if there could be a dedicated corner during investor meeting, for investors who want to ask questions about Nintendo games specifically.
Q12: Question about the new projects like NX and the focus on Nintendo’s IPs from human resources point of view
Kimishima: “t’s less a venture into the movie business, and more a question of how we can utilize the Nintendo IP in video content as part of the broader effort to put our IP to practical use. If anyone wants to partner with us, we’ll hold discussions”.
“People are our most valuable management resource, and it is important to give employees opportunities to develop their skills and achieve personal growth. But when it comes to business in a completely new field, it is essential that we build relations with external partners”
Shigeru Miyamoto also talks about the video projects he worked on (the Pikmin shorts, the Star Fox Zero animated short, etc.), but also the deal with Universal Parks & Resorts, and more.
Q13: An investors talked about Hiroshi Yamauchi (former president of Nintendo), who once explained that Nintendo didn’t rely on the strengths of others. But what about the partnership with DeNA?
Regardless of our partnership with DeNA, there is no question that we must undertake the important task of creating new things. Meanwhile, DeNA does have very good technology and experience when it comes to analyzing how to get things to consumers and how to understand consumer reactions after delivery. We believe that we can make products that are even more unique based on consumer feedback. As such, I’d like to be clear that we are confident that our current business partnership with DeNA will move us in a positive direction, not a negative one, in terms of making unique products.
Q14: Question about Nintendo’s forecast for the current Fiscal Year, with the investor not believing Nintendo will meet its goals.
Tatsumi Kimishi explains that Nintendo will manage to meet its goal thanks to:
- strong Nintendo 3DS Software sales
- NX will make up for the drop in Wii U Hardware and Software sales
- the upcoming games for mobile platforms
Here’s the most relevant quote, from Shigeru Miyamoto:
In striking that balance, while it’s important that we do not overextend by putting an excessive amount of content in our games, the only solution is how to make software that sells well. There will be big hits somewhere in our business, and they support the games that fail and allow us to take on other challenges. So our basic premise is to create software that will sell in the range of at least two million units. We simply couldn’t recoup our costs if we only released games in Japan that had sales of around 300,000 units, so the global market is our standard.