Former Nintendo CEO’s refusal to fire workers remembered as gaming industry struggles

Former Nintendo CEO’s refusal to fire workers remembered as gaming industry struggles
via IGN

Despite facing challenges, the late Satoru Iwata refused to sack workers because he did not want to affect employee morale

January 30, 2024
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The refusal of former Nintendo CEO Satoru Iwata to sack employees amid financial challenges has resonated in the gaming industry amid recent layoffs. 
A principled stand: Iwata, who helmed Nintendo from 2002 until his untimely death in 2015, is currently being celebrated on social media for his remarkable leadership during tumultuous times. Facing dismal sales for their 3DS system in 2011, Nintendo found itself on shaky ground. Iwata, according to Wired, responded by both cutting the handheld’s price significantly and voluntarily taking a 50% pay cut as a sign of accountability. In solidarity, other top executives also accepted pay reductions between 20% and 30%.
Despite facing challenges again due to the failure of the Wii U console in 2012 and 2013, Iwata still refused to fire employees because he did not want to affect employee morale and long-term business sustainability.
“If we reduce the number of employees for better short-term financial results, employee morale will decrease,” he told investors at the time. “I sincerely doubt employees who fear that they may be laid off will be able to develop software titles that could impress people around the world.”
Ongoing layoffs: Iwata’s legacy of prioritizing people over profits is back in the spotlight as the gaming industry grapples with a surge of layoffs affecting companies like Activision Blizzard, Xbox, ZeniMax and Riot Games. These job losses juxtaposed with multi-billion-dollar acquisitions and record company profits have ignited debates about corporate ethics and the value placed on employees who fuel the industry’s success.
Social media reactions: Iwata’s compassionate approach has resonated with many on social media, with fans and industry observers lauding his leadership.
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“Satoru Iwata isn’t the regular Finance CEO, he was a Programmer, Engineer and video games enthusiast,” one X user wrote. “He knew every detail in Hard and Software Coding, Design etc. No one will ever be like him.”
“Iwata was a one-in-a-million man,” another user chimed in. “He was an executive who actually felt like more than just another guy in a suit for once.”
“Crazy part is still that he only made a fraction of what some of the CEOs at these companies doing layoffs,” another pointed out.
 
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      Ryan General

      Ryan General
      is a Senior Reporter for NextShark

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