Now, he’s also raising money for the nonprofit New York Videogame Critics Circle, which offers scholarships, courses, internships and mentorship programs to underserved New York City students. Fils-Aimé recently joined as a board member and mentor.
The primary method of soliciting donations will be via podcast. Fils-Aimé will join longtime New York games journalist Harold Goldberg in a seven-episode series, Talking Games with Reggie and Harold, which will feature interns being helped by the program, as well as high-profile executives and developers in the video game industry. Their first guest will be journalist-turned-master-of-ceremony Geoff Keighley, who founded the Game Awards. Goldberg is a freelancer who has written previously for The Washington Post.
Money raised via GoFundMe will be used to provide games and game consoles to youths in homeless shelters. The games, Fils-Aimé said, would provide some escape and positive experiences, especially since some shelters lack Internet access.
The podcast will be free, but donors will get exclusive content, access to a private auction with hard-to-find items (like an issue of Nintendo Power magazine signed by Mario creator Shigeru Miyamoto), as well as the chance to personally ask Fils-Aimé a question.
“Our vision is to create a fun, entertaining, informative podcast with its goal to benefit the nonprofit,” Fils-Aimé told The Post. “The reason I was drawn to the Circle to the point of becoming a board member is I was born in the Bronx … where I have spent time mentoring students literally within miles of where I spent the first eight years of my life. I know how challenging it is, but with the right opportunities and the right experiences, we’re looking to create some future leaders.”
Fils-Aimé retired as president and chief operating officer for Nintendo of America last year after 15 years. He first grabbed industry attention with aggressive, hilarious press conferences, fueling the creation of memes in the early aughts. He steered the company to success with the Wii and the DS handhelds by negotiating high-volume agreements with vendors. He also spearheaded the Nintendo Direct livestreams that would become the company standard for its largest software announcements.
In his retirement announcement, Fils-Aimé said he intended to return to being a fan, throwing his celebrity to causes he supports, like the Critics Circle. He’s also become the inaugural leader in residence at Cornell University’s Dyson School of Applied Economics and Management, giving lectures and doing one-on-one mentoring with students at the undergraduate business school.
“When I retired from Nintendo, I was very public in saying that for me, this next phase is about helping the next generation of leaders, as well as the next generation of companies to grow and deliver on their promises,” Fils-Aimé said.
Even before Nintendo, Fils-Aimé was a marketing firebrand for other brand companies like Proctor & Gamble, Pizza Hut and MTV Networks. He often provided insight on reaching young audiences, something that helped him at Nintendo. When Nintendo considered changing its iconic brand logo in an effort to appeal to older audiences, Fils-Aimé halted that effort, arguing there was nothing wrong with appealing to a broad audience.
Fils-Aimé also made headlines by joining the board of directors of embattled games retailer GameStop, which recently insisted upon reopening and staying open as an “essential business.” Fils-Aimé started in his advisory role with GameStop on April 20, and told The Post he wasn’t in his role at the time these decisions were made.
Nintendo Switch consoles, despite being over three years old, are now reportedly sold out everywhere as the company tries to keep up with demand. Sony’s PlayStation 4 and Microsoft’s Xbox One consoles have also been moving fast. But global supply chain issues still loom large for the industry, particularly with Sony and Microsoft still scheduled and expected to release their next-generation consoles by December this year.
“The fact is, certainly all of these companies recognize that not meeting the needs of the consumers is not a good thing,” Fils-Aimé said. “I’m sure that whether it’s Sony and Microsoft with their new machines, making sure they have enough supply to satisfy their launch, and their ongoing business, that has to be a day-to-day area of focus. Obviously with the virus, it’s created challenges in the supply chain."
Fils-Aimé said he’s confident in the executives at those companies, as well as Nintendo’s ability to restock shelves. Sony and Microsoft executives have remained publicly confident in meeting their self-imposed holiday deadlines.
The Switch console recently broke its own sales records. The launch of Animal Crossing New Horizons, tied with the pandemic, boosted consoles sales in March; its sales that month surpassed even its launch sales figures.
“When I retired it was important for me that the company is well positioned, and that it would be able to continue delivering smiles and unique experiences,” Fils-Aimé said. “As an executive who retires, the best thing to see is the company continue to do well as [that executive has] transitioned away from the business, and tremendous momentum the Nintendo Switch has is gratifying to see.”
Fils-Aimé said he’s excited about new forms of storytelling to come out of games, especially with broad community-building projects like Fortnite and Minecraft. Even though gaming is the largest slice of the entertainment sector, there’s still vast potential for international growth. The digital age is only furthering that goal, he said. For him though, he never forgets to point out that games are meant to entertain.
“I think there’s just such huge potential in all of those areas as long as games continue to entertain and continue to push on the boundaries of storytelling, this is going to be a fantastic industry, creating significant opportunity for so many different people,” he said.
Meanwhile, Fils-Aimé will join the millions of other Animal Crossing: New Horizons players and continue to tend to his village. He said he hasn’t bothered with terraforming yet, not until he feels comfortable with the right mix of villagers, as well as a good foundation for growth. He did a tour of his Animal Crossing New Leaf home seven years ago. But for now, he’s holding back viewings of his current creation.
“When I feel it’s up to public review, I’ll do some sort of reveal of my island,” he said.