In the absence of president Satoru Iwata, Nintendo's top executives found themselves under fire at the annual general meeting of shareholders
this month, as investors took pot-shots from every angle.
The company has been under severe pressure recently, as it recorded losses last year
while sales of its Wii U console continue to fizzle out. While Iwata would normally field the questions, he missed the meeting due to illness
To give an idea of how tense the back and forth between Nintendo and its investors must have been, when a shareholder suggested that Iwata should try to take it all in his stride a little better, Miyamoto remarks, "Just for your information, I too have been feeling a great deal of anxiety. Mr. Iwata is a president whom I can rely on very much, and I would like to continue this journey with him."
The barrage of tricky, and sometimes odd, questions came thick and fast. One investor asks why Nintendo hasn't given any free games away to its shareholders, while another questions whether the screen of the Nintendo 3DS could be altered such that it can be "manually extended to become twice the size both horizontally and vertically."
And partway through the meeting, a shareholder puts simply: "I do not understand video games and I even feel angry because, at Nintendo’s shareholders’ meetings, the shareholders always discuss things relating to video games or such childish topics as 'what the future of video games should be,' while I, for one, was flabbergasted that Mr. Iwata continues to hold his position although he had said that he would resign if the company’s performance were bad."
A tricky audience for Nintendo then, but senior managing directors Genyo Takeda and Shigeru Miyamoto valiantly drive the conversation forward, providing some interesting food for thought at times.
"If you ask me about the most challenging aspect of designing Wii U, it was that the high-resolution graphics were anticipated by everyone and could not be an advantage," Takeda tells one investor of the Wii U hardware.
And he notes that the company is still having a hard time explaining to consumers what the benefits of the Wii U GamePad are.
"We want to pass on to our younger developers the DNA of offering unexpected and fun entertainment to consumers by doing things in different ways from others, so the company can continuously produce unprecedented entertainment," he says.
Nintendo's overall message to its shareholders is that it's in a bit of a slump right now, and there's no easy solution to getting out. But the company believes that the efforts it is going to right now for the future, will help to steer Nintendo back into a new high.