Former Nintendo exec Reggie Fils-Aimé joins GameStop's board

Jon Fingas
Associate Editor
REUTERS/Gus Ruelas

GameStop thinks it has a way to turn around its struggling business: give a video game industry legend a say in the company's future. The retailer has appointed three new people to its board of directors, most notably including former Nintendo of America President Reggie Fils-Aimé. He'll take his position on April 20th, while the other two (former Walmart US president Bill Simon and PetSmart chief J.K. Symncyk) are taking their board seats immediately.

The recently retired exec justified the move by contending that the industry needed a "healthy and vibrant" GameStop.

The new positions come as part of a larger shakeup of GameStop's board. Four directors are retiring in June of this year, while two more will leave in June 2021. The median tenure for someone on the board will be just one year versus eight from before. Much of the old guard won't be there, in other words. GameStop also wants the average tenure for an independent director to be less than 10 years, while the committee members will ideally rotate every five years.

Fils-Aimé certainly has experience with video game success at retail. While the Wii U floundered in the market, there's little doubt that Fils-Aimé helped fuel excitement for other hardware, including the runaway success of the Wii. He arguably helped drive the success of many games during his Nintendo stint, too. He has a deep understanding of what makes game sales tick. This could theoretically influence GameStop's strategy going forward, especially with the PS5 and Xbox Series X on the horizon.

However, it's not certain that his influence will be enough. Whatever GameStop's problems are with executing on its strategy, it's facing the much larger challenge of an industry that's moving away from physical game sales. As adept as Fils-Aimé was at Nintendo, he's not about to get people buying discs and cartridges again -- any success may come by changing GameStop's core strategy rather than refining it.