Nintendo’s Reggie Fils-Aimé retires (and Bowser claims the castle)

Reggie Fils-Aimé is retiring after more than a decade spent as president of Nintendo of America. His career spanned many console generations, starting with the troubled GameCube and ending with the fabulously successful Switch. Reggie will be succeeded by Doug Bowser, who has worked under him for the last four years.

In a statement provided by Nintendo, Reggie (who frequently went by his first name in familiar fashion) offered the following farewell:

Nintendo owns a part of my heart forever. 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.

In addition, he posted a video farewell on Twitter:

Reggie has been one of Nintendo’s most public and recognizable faces ever since the early days of his ascendancy, which coincidentally was when I began covering E3 regularly for work. I had the privilege of meeting him numerous times for interviews and Q&As, as well as just bumping into him at this or that event.

His indefatigably on-message manner, as if he had a prepared remark for every possible question, was impossible to be frustrated with because of his undeniable charisma and passion for the games and devices he was promoting. It may have been hard to tell where Reggie ended and Nintendo PR began (perhaps now we’ll never know), but he was never anything less than helpful and engaging in my experience.

When he took over Nintendo of America, the company as a whole was recovering from a down period marked by a console (the GameCube) that had not kept pace with the competition and a handheld that, while popular, was flagging and clearly old-fashioned.

As most will remember, however, the company soon turned all that around with the DS and Wii, two of the best-selling consoles of all time and ones that returned Nintendo to its household name status, as well as vastly expanding the “gamer” demographic. Of course, the Wii U was a disappointment (though home to many great games), but since then the Switch has restored confidence in the company’s ability to innovate and deliver. With some 20 million sold since launch, Reggie is leaving on a high note.

Reggie’s involvement from the outside seemed to be to pretend these things didn’t exist until 30 seconds before going onstage to announce them, after which he would tirelessly promote them to every outlet and fan that managed to make eye contact with him. He was accessible, friendly and if not candid he was certainly honest and earnest at all times. He’ll certainly be missed by many, myself included.

Doug Bowser will take over as president on April 15, Reggie’s official last day. Bowser joined in 2015 and led the sales and marketing for the Switch, so you know he’s got momentum — plus, you know, the name.

I’ve asked Nintendo for any further information on Reggie’s departure, such as whether he’ll still be involved with the company at all, and will update this post if I hear back.

So long, Reggie, and best of luck on the next level!