While I do agree that Iwata was a special human being (and one that will live on in his work for a gaming eternity) there are a few things that I think are a bit rose-tinted in your points.
They could be rose-tinted, or we could just see things from two different points of view: mine where I see Iwata as a unique humane business leader, and one where you see him as an ordinary business man, which is completely fine. But, let's be honest, I provided facts we all know are true while you offered a subjective interpretation of the facts I posted.
1. Iwata took the blame for the disaster of the WiiU because it was his fault. Sure, a pay cut was without a doubt unheard of before, but the WiiU was in many ways a product of his lack of vision, of where the industry was heading, and one that cost Nintendo the dedicated home console market.
I'm not sure the WiiU was his fault. The idea of having 2 screens on the DS was his doing, but the WiiU was a product of Nintendo's engineering team, Shigeru Miyamoto and many others involved in the design of new Nintendo consoles. The fact that he took it all on himself, as president, with a 50% (yep) pay cut is testament to his humility.
2. He initiated interviews/discussions with developers out of pure necessity. ~8 years ago almost no major 3rd party publisher worked with Nintendo, so they tried to reach out in as many ways as possible. This is one of the aspects Sony managed to beat them,m even during their struggles in the 7th generation. It was a nice way, how he handled it, but in all honestly turned out to be a bit pointless.
Iwata was a passionate developer. You have heard the anecdotes of his development prowess and feats, let's list some:
- He re-wrote Earthbound's programming code
- He remade the Pokemon battle system without documentation
- He saved Super Smash Bros. Melee from delay
- He fit two Pokemon worlds onto a Game Boy cartridge
This means that Iwata not only perhaps needed to connect, which truly is your assumption and not a fact, but that he wanted to. Another fact to support my idea is that Iwata made a passionate presentation at GDC, about the love of video game making. The guy just loved making video games.
3. The Quality of Life program, from what I understood, had its fair share of development setbacks and failures, and the only truly tangible late result is Ring Fit Adventure, a game that was obviously born by those works. Still, it was first and foremost a profit-oriented endeavor, and not the humanitarian work so many people try to portray it. It was never meant to be affordable, and it was coined during Nintendo's troubled period.
The success of the QoL project doesn't matter as much as the reason of the initiative, which explains his character, while the success or failure of it doesn't relate to Iwata's character. As for profit-oriented, that's needless to say since all corporations are profit-oriented and both Iwata and Cerny were/are in executive positions. It doesn't mean that their initiatives are ruled out as being humanitarian in flavor simply because they are driven by businesses. It is easy to see a pattern between the Wii/DS which aimed to make games accessible to more people and thus bring smiles to more people, the motion controls, brain training, and finally the Quality of Life project, which aimed at getting people to go out to walk, and to sleep better, among other things. I can just as easily say that Nintendo could've sought 500 other ways to make money than to aim at the wellbeing and health of people via video games.
4. Working until your deathbed, while it might seem noble (I know I will never have the passion for anything like this, ever) it is also a clear sign of workaholism, a deadly plague in the Japanese work environments. I am not willing to celebrate this.Now, I know I might seem like a monster, pointing these out, but the truth is, but the fact is that Iwata was a man, just like everyone else, one who worked with passion and dedication his whole life, but one who had flaws and made some proven mistakes.
I know personally about workaholism and how it can ruin peoples' lives, because it has affected me personally. However, there is a difference between workaholism and work ethic. We don't know how long Iwata worked per day, and his life habits, so it's not safe to jump to conclusions. All we know is that, even though he was dying of cancer, he cared enough about his legacy and Nintendo as a company to fight to the end. It's courage and devotion.
All in all, I think there is nothing wrong with OP pointing out the resemblance with Mark Cerny, and I think there are some valid arguments on both sides. Now, if the person would have chosen Bobby Kotick, that would be a completely different story altogether
Could not agree more. The OP is absolutely fine, but in my opinion it is limited to business effectiveness, while Iwata shone in something few people do, and in that sense he's kind of incomparable. Also, he's deceased so our love for his dedication to games is even greater than the great things he achieved by being himself while alive.
Many people can make good moves for their businesses, but few do it while being so approachable and human. Of Iwata, Reggie said in memory of him:
"On a personal level, he was my boss, and he was my mentor. And, he was my colleague. But most of all, he was my friend. And I'm a better person for it. And I think every gamer is better for having Mr. Iwata's vision and talent help inspire and shape the passion we all share."
Here's another interesting anecdote about Iwata's approachability, which further highlights what I wrote to you above:
“When I was being recruited for the opportunity to join Nintendo, I asked as part of the process to speak with Mr. Iwata. It was not going to be part of the process and as I learned later, it actually was a bit of a disruption in the process. Imagine from Nintendo’s perspective, ‘Who’s this candidate thinking that he can spend time with our global president. This is not a role that is going to be based in Japan. Why does he want to talk with him?’ I mean, you can imagine the types of conversations that must have been happening. But in the end they agreed for me to speak with Mr. Iwata before I would decide whether to accept the role.”
“It was set up to be a half-hour conversation and it ended up running much longer than that. And it really sets the stage for the type of business and personal relationship we would have. We would talk all the time. He was gracious in sharing his perspective. He was tremendously accommodating in hearing a unique point of view from me, a person who had no history in the video game business other than as a player. But [he valued] my perspective because I brought a consumer sensibility. I brought a Western business sensibility. And the relationship that he and I had for almost 11 years, it was truly special and just, his openness with me and the things that we were able to do truly together, were just magical.”
Iwata also invented the DS, of which Reggie had this to say:
"Beyond his résumé, I can add another signature point: The man was fearless. Remember how you first felt when you heard the name Wii? Or remember what was said when you found out about Nintendogs, or Brain Age, or a dual-screened portable device? You may have been puzzled. But he already knew; he had already heard the criticisms internally. But he always championed an idea he truly believed in, and we all benefited."
Iwata is the reason the Wii and DS existed, and it really shook the industry. Few others made such ballsy moves. Sometimes they didn't pay off, but in the end, the guy did things few others would do.