President, Nintendo of America
Impact: Most executives would kill to have Fils-Aime’s problems.
While every other company in the country was busy trying to stoke demand for the holiday season, the head of Nintendo’s North American operation spent his time worrying about supply.
The videogame giant has seen such huge calls for its Wii console that it’s been almost impossible to find them in stores. Nintendo’s handheld DS, meanwhile, was far and away the bestselling vidgame system of last year.
It’s a remarkable turnaround for Nintendo, which as recently as a year ago was being written off as an also-ran in the console business.
But Wii shocked the industry when its low price and intuitive interface appealed to a broader audience and immediately became No. 1 in sales. Credit that in part to wise product design decisions by Fils-Aime’s bosses in Japan, but also to a savvy marketing campaign that led millions of nongamers — particularly women and older players — to buy a videogame device for the first time.
While Nintendo’s own games, like “Super Mario Galaxy,” have done well, third-party publishers have had trouble coming up with compelling software for the Wii and DS, which is why the Xbox 360 is still ahead in software sales. Fixing that problem, industry denizens agree, is the only obstacle Fils-Aime has left until Nintendo is once again the undisputed king of interactive entertainment.
POV: “We expected Wii to perform extremely well within the historic launch parameters of the videogame industry,” Fils-Aime says. “What we didn’t expect was to write an entirely new chapter in that history and to have that happen so fast.”