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Wednesday, May 8, 2019

Shuntaro Furukawa Is Avoiding Answering Nintendo Investors

By LUDWIG VON KOOPA - Why even take questions if you won't answer them?

A lot of the time, I write about investor question & answer sessions that follow Nintendo's quarterly financial disclosures just for laughs. They rarely contain useful information, but historically, investors ask bizarre questions and there's entertainment value in that.

This time, in the Q&A going over the whole year ending March 2019 (we wrote about the annual financial disclosure here), the investors asked largely relevant questions to Nintendo global president Shuntaro Furukawa. He gave evasive non-answers, much like his predecessors.

A lot of people wanted to know about China. There is a huge opportunity there to make a lot of money and get a lot of Chinese in China playing Nintendo stuff beyond the lame iQue (with Furukawa deemed as not “a great success.”), but Nintendo refused to provide any kind of details, be it timing, products, strategy, or what. They implied they don't know these things because they're still talking with Tencent, but I think even if they did know they wouldn't say.

Any questions asking for specifics beyond the limited information in the annual financial report were rebuffed with circular logic or saying “we plan to release more games people want to play without saying what those are.” They must have some kind of institutional executive-level coaching at Nintendo that's been there across presidents, giving everyone the same instructions. It's beyond frustrating as someone invested in Nintendo. Unlike a lot of, say, American companies that actually have their executives prepare for investor Q&A in advance and give details and thoughtful answers, Nintendo doesn't seem to value investor relations.

There was one particularly interesting question, however. Question 21, which asked,

“What are your thoughts on the risk of a hostile takeover? Do you have any preventative measures or countermeasures against a takeover?”
The answer was essentially “no, but we'll think about it some day.” One can compare this to CAPCOM which used to take some preventative measures but stopped years ago, leading to dumb articles in the dumb media saying it's for sale. No one's saying Nintendo is for sale when they're not taking preventative measures.

Well, maybe some people are saying that. I'm not looking for that kind of trashy analysis.

President Furukawa also claims that the Nintendo Switch Online Nintendo Entertainment System free monthly games gets people returning to their Nintendo Switch after dormancy and it increases engagement with the console. That's very different than the narrative you see in YouTube comments sections, like for the one in the just-announced news that May will bring Donkey Kong Jr., Clu Clu Land, and VS. Excitebike. I'm inclined to believe the angry comments section on this one. Who the hell has been dying to play a non-mathematic Donkey Kong Jr.?

(Clu Clu Land's non-deluxe version is also bad.) 

Though Punch-Out!! and Kirby's Adventure are also now on there in recent months, so he might have a historical point. Ironically, I haven't touched them.

No matter who has been the president in the past several years, there's no new information presented in these Q&A sessions. I hope next time, the investors go back to asking silly, amusing questions, because Nintendo management sure won't say anything useful or entertaining. It's the anti-KoopaTV.

This article is arguably as worthless as Furukawa's answers, but this'll at least be good for historical record and comparison for future question and answer sessions. To reiterate, Ludwig invests in Nintendo and he gets upset when its management doesn't seem to care about information disclosure.

Interestingly, when Furukawa and former president Tatsumi Kimishima jointly answered investor questions a year ago, there were some pretty decent and interesting answers.
The next Q&A session is six months later. Furukawa gives long answers, but they're of little substance.
The Q&A session a year later (for the year that ended March 2020) is a lot more substantive.


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