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Fils-Aime: 60% Leaving Nintendo of America Marketing Staff
by James Brightman

Contrary to the original report that claimed around 90 percent of the Nintendo of America sales and marketing team would depart, President Reggie Fils-Aime has now clarified that roughly 60 percent are leaving. The status of execs Harrison, Kaplan and Llewelyn remains up in the air, however. [Update: more details from Reggie, and analyst commentary]

Earlier this week there was a major brouhaha when Game Informer broke the story that nearly 90 percent of Nintendo of America's sales and marketing team would take severance rather than moving as planned to either San Francisco or New York. Nintendo remained mum on the subject for a little while, but Kotaku managed to wrangle a statement right from the top: President Reggie Fils-Aime.

He says that about 60 percent have decided not to move and will leave the company. Unfortunately he did not address the part of Game Informer's report which states that three key executives, George Harrison, Perrin Kaplan and Beth Llewelyn, are leaving.

Here's Reggie's statement:

"Virtually all of the employees affected by the relocation plan have now responded with their decisions, and approximately four of every ten have agreed to make the move to either New York or the Bay Area, in keeping with our original expectations.

A transition task force of key executives has been formed to ensure the smoothest process possible, and continuous information and resources will be available to all employees. The rest of Nintendo's strong leadership talent will continue to drive our business objectives forward. It has always been the case that Nintendo employees are resilient and rise to any challenge, and there is no doubt in my mind that we will excel as we continue to tackle new challenges and business opportunities.

Nintendo itself can not discuss the relocation status of any individual involved, but for those who will be departing the company, we have every expectation that they will succeed to the highest degree in their future endeavors. We will miss the talent, energy and experience from those who have chosen not to relocate. Our sales and marketing teams have been key components in returning Nintendo to its current position of market leadership.

Reggie Fils-Aime

President, Nintendo of America"

[UPDATE] In addition to the statement, Reggie was also interviewed by the San Jose Mercury News. He said that about 55 jobs are being moved into a new office in Silicon Valley, where "the heat and the action is going on around new forms of entertainment." Another 25 jobs will be moved to midtown Manhattan. The move will take place around September.

One of the major reasons for the move is to be able to spend more face time with the game companies putting out products on Nintendo platforms. "In our minds,'' he said, "it's essential to spend physical time with people from other companies, to be involved with them as neighbors and do business with them face to face.''

Although the sales and marketing staff represent only 10 percent of Nintendo of America, Reggie classified them as "the forward-facing 10 percent — the group that interacts with retailers, journalists, licensees, reaching out to consumers and emerging trends." He added that "it's much easier to do this right now when we certainly have the wind at our back," citing the Wii's success.

[UPDATE 2] Following the announcement, GameDaily BIZ spoke about the move's implications with Wedbush Morgan Securities analyst Michael Pachter.

"Given that it's a Japanese company, it's not a stretch to believe that Japan either blessed the move or mandated it. I think that Nintendo is looking for a more cosmopolitan presence in the U.S., and Seattle may be perceived (in Japan) as lacking that big-city quality," he commented.

"I think that the leadership of the teams is very important, and that the loss of George, Perrin and Beth would be a big one. There are other capable people in the organization, such as J.C. Smith, and remember that Reggie has a sales and marketing background. Also, I would assume that if any of the three executives in fact choose to stay in Seattle, they would still be available to consult with the company on an as needed basis."

"I really think that Nintendo is interested in a more media-centric presence, and New York and San Francisco give that to to them," he concluded.
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