The last couple of weeks for Nintendo have not been good when it comes to public perception. It all started with an unnamed Nintendo employee who claims their right to unionize was violated. That was followed by Nintendo of America contractors who alleged mistreatment as well. Those reports have been followed up by IGN with a new piece that speaks to more current and former contractors who have taken issue with how Nintendo of America operates.
In the piece, one former contractor describes the culture in their NoA department as “stilted” and oddly formal. This included staffers making regular apologies for leaving 15 minutes early, among other things. This apologetic nature was something full-time Nintendo employees participated in as well. Furthermore, contractors supposedly had to “account for virtually every minute of their day on a timesheet,” which caused all sorts of employee paranoia about getting in trouble for stepping away.
Not surprisingly, employees are also worried about posting on social media, as they fear they’ll get fired for sharing any number of opinions or comments. Apparently even things like taking sick days led to multiple apologies, all over the fear of being severely reprimanded by higher-ups.
As we said, people are speaking out in the last few months, which goes against how quiet things have been years before. One longtime contractors states that the “mood is really tense,” in the offices, as everyone is wondering what Nintendo is going to do in reaction to these stories being shared. It’s clear that the deluge of comments isn’t going to stop, as IGN spoke to a dozen current and former full-time employees and contractors, all of which say Nintendo has become more heavy-handed and restrictive in recent years.
Another concern for contractors is the lack of upward movement. One contractors says that years ago, you could expect to move up the corporate ladder, so to speak. You could start on a lower run and work your way up. Nowadays, one former contractor says it seems like there’s no path forward in the company, as you’ll likely take on more work than you should, but there’s little hope for promotion along the way. This is backed by a source that says while Nintendo’s demand for localization writers and editors has doubled in the past 3 years, that area of the company has had no full-time hires in the same time period.
Obviously, this has led to quite a big amount of turnover for contractors. Another source spoke on the matter by sharing the following.
“It’s just like throwing bodies at things. It just seemed like the full-time staff was almost drowning all the time. They didn’t hire enough full-time people, so full-time people just ended up managing more and more contractors, getting more and more bogged down, and there was this bottleneck… That’s how contractors end up training each other, because the full-time staff is just buried.”
Nintendo released a statement on the original right to unionize complaint a few days after it was filed, but they’re yet to comment on the allegations shared thereafter. One person who was willing to comment on the matter was Reggie Fils-Aime, who shared the following.
“At this point I’m three years retired from Nintendo of America, and I can’t comment on what’s going on today within the company. What I can say is that while I was there, we routinely hired [contract employees] in as permanent employees. We did it repeatedly. And interestingly, if you look at a number of well-known personalities within Nintendo of America, a lot of them started as contract employees 10, 15, or 20 years ago. So it’s always been a positive part of the culture to recruit in the very best of the contract employees into the company. So I’ve read the same stories, this division between contract and full-time employee. All I can say is that is not at all the culture that I left as I retired from Nintendo.”
There’s much more to read through in the IGN feature, with more personal accounts about Nintendo’s approach to contractors, how they handle full-time and contracted employees comingling, and plenty of other topics. Make sure to read the entire feature here.
Reggie also shared similar comments on this matter with Washington Post. You can see his full comments below.
“It struck me, this isn’t the Nintendo I left. While I was at Nintendo, we routinely had meetings at events where our associates, that’s how we referred to our contract employees, were invited. It’s just a small example. I was famous for doing bimonthly and quarterly lunches with employees. It was a basic sign-up, and associates were invited as much as full-time employees. I know I was able to achieve that, and certainly what’s being described does not seem like a healthy culture.
All of the things that are part of a job beyond salary, you need to look at all those elements and have a mentality of doing the right thing for your employees. I fundamentally do believe that if employees are being treated with respect and the work they do and the pay and benefits they receive are in balance, the need for unionization isn’t there.”
I laughed out loud at these complaints. The environment is oddly formal? It's a workplace, not a slumber party. You need to apologize for leaving early? That should be common sense. Accounting for all your time? Hello, they're paying you for this time. These people have obviously never worked in a factory setting or held any other type of blue collar job. Instead, they sound like children expecting the atmosphere of a tech startup in a TV sitcom. Nevermind that Nintendo is a Japanese company where things are just done differently. Might I suggest that if you have a problem when made to feel like you must apologize for leaving early that you, oh I don't know, FIND ANOTHER JOB.
It's dumb clickbait. 95% of "journalism" is simply that, someone somewhere trying to keep the outrage machine going by feeding people nonsense.