Reggie Fils-Aime, who rose from the head of marketing to the president of Nintendo of America and the face of the company to U.S. gamers, is leaving the video game powerhouse.
Nintendo announced Fils-Aime’s retirement Thursday, noting that the role would be filled by Doug Bowser, Nintendo of America’s senior vice president of sales and marketing (who also happens to share the last name of the main protagonist in Mario games).
“Nintendo owns a part of my heart forever,” Fils-Aime said. “It’s a part that is filled with gratitude – for the incredibly talented people I’ve worked with, for the opportunity to represent such a wonderful brand, and most of all, to feel like a member of the world’s most positive and enduring gamer community. As I look forward to departing in both good health and good humor, this is not ‘game over’ for me, but instead ‘leveling up’ to more time with my wife, family and friends.”
Fils-Aime started with Nintendo during the days of the GameCube and Game Boy Advance. He projected a bold attitude in press conferences that was contrary to the company’s demure reputation, introducing himself to the gaming world at E3 2006 by saying “My name is Reggie. I’m about kicking ass. I’m about taking names. And we’re about making games.”
Gamers immediately fell in love with him.
Beyond his showmanship, though, Fils-Aime worked his way through the labyrinthine chain of command at Nintendo, eventually earning the trust of company president Satoru Iwata and becoming an influential voice in the company’s growth.
Iwata died in 2015 at age 55 from bile duct cancer and was replaced with Tatsumi Kimishima. Last year, Shuntaro Furukawa took over control of the company and has indicated he’s not afraid to think differently, even if that means breaking with tradition.
Furukawa will have to guide Nintendo into the next generation without its most visible (human) icon, though. And Bowser, whose resume includes time at Proctor & Gamble and Electronic Arts, will have big shoes to fill with the Nintendo gamer audience, which has shown an affinity for company leaders more than any other fan base.
Competitors and players were quick to take to social media upon hearing the news.
Fils-Aime’s last day will be April 15.