Reggie Fils-Aime didn’t want to launch the Game Boy Micro, but used it as a learning experience
“[It] was a nonstarter”
In case you missed it, former Nintendo of America President Reggie Fils-Aime just launched his new book, and there’s a bunch of info coming out in regards to his time at the company. As VGC points out, one interesting tale involves the fabled Game Boy Micro.
If you missed it in 2005, the Micro was one of Nintendo’s oddball handheld releases that offered up a tiny Game Boy Advance for $99.99. It did not do particularly well, by Nintendo’s own admission.
Here’s what Reggie had to say on the matter, and how he wishes the company could have sidestepped the whole affair:
“From my perspective, the concept of Game Boy Micro was a nonstarter. The hardware was exceptionally small, Not only were the control buttons difficult for any reasonably sized adult to manipulate, but also the screen was tiny. This ran counter to current consumer electronics trends of making screens larger. But development of this hardware had continued, and now we were forced to launch the system. ‘We should have talked about this long ago’, I told [fellow NOA executives] Don James and Mike Fukuda. ‘We should have all agreed that this product would be a distraction for us in our market and either not introduce it here or have it terminated as a project globally. By working together we could have had a different outcome.’”
And here’s how Reggie flipped this into a learning experience:
“The lesson: company leadership needed constant communication on our priorities. As president, my solution was to institute weekly meetings of the executive leadership team to review key priorities and our progress against them.”
So I completely get, from a business standpoint, why Reggie felt this way about an oddball pet project.
But at the same time, the Game Boy Micro is part of the reason why I continued to maintain an interest in Nintendo. Sure it was weird and unwieldy. Sure it’s mostly collector fodder. But the fact that the company was doing strange things like this kept me interested. So while it may not have “met Nintendo’s expectations” in the words of Satoru Iwata himself; Nintendo’s long string of crazy handhelds helped augment its legacy as a company that was different, for better or worse.
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