President of Pokemon USA, Inc. to Step Down

Discussion in 'Pokémon News' started by PokePop, Dec 12, 2007.

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  1. PokePop

    PokePop Administrator

    Pokémon USA, Inc. today announced Akira Chiba, president, will resign at the end of this year. After years of dedicated service, Mr. Chiba is proud to leave Pokémon USA upon completing his mission to re-establish Pokémon as a successful global brand. Mr. Chiba joined Pokémon USA in 2002 when the company's New York office was established, the brand's first corporate headquarters outside of Japan. Upon stepping down, Mr. Chiba has plans to pursue other opportunities.

    Mr. Chiba will be replaced by Mr. Kenji Okubo, previously executive vice president and head of Pokémon USA's Seattle office, effective January 1, 2008. Mr. Okubo will manage Pokémon's operations in New York, Seattle and London, and will oversee all Pokémon initiatives outside of Japan including the Pokémon Trading Card Game, the long-running animated TV series, North American and European licensing and the recently launched, Pokémon Trading Figure Game. Prior to joining Pokémon USA in 2004, Mr. Okubo worked at The Pokémon Company headquarters in Tokyo, Japan as director of international business.

    "During Mr. Chiba's tenure, Pokémon USA has greatly expanded," said Okubo. "The brand is topping industry Charts across all categories -- including video games, toys, and trading card games -- plus the Pokémon animated TV series is hugely successful on Cartoon Network. We thank Mr. Chiba for his efforts on behalf of Pokémon and wish him success in the future."

    About Pokémon USA

    Pokémon USA, Inc., a subsidiary of The Pokémon Company in Japan, manages the property outside of Asia which includes licensing, marketing, the Pokémon Trading Card Game, an animated TV series, the Pokémon Trading Figure Game, home entertainment, the official Pokémon website, and online retail center Pokémon was launched in Japan in 1996 for play on Nintendo's Game Boy® and has since evolved into a global cultural phenomenon. Pokémon was introduced in North America in 1998 and today is one of the most popular toy and entertainment properties in the world. For more information, visit
  2. Jason

    Jason New Member

    so is it still a good thing?
  3. PokePop

    PokePop Administrator

    Neither good nor bad.
    The good thing, from the TCG point of view, is that the new president is coming from the Seattle office, which runs the TCG. So he should be very familiar with the card game.
  4. bugsbite

    bugsbite New Member


    I always thought an American ran the company over here like Nintendo with Reggie Fils-Aime . :confused:

    The Regginator made Nintendo the awesome force it is today in the US!
  5. PkmnManiac

    PkmnManiac New Member

    Maybe he'll put up the old sets.....course I wouldn't know if they're actually at Nintendo World or not.
  6. Magic_Umbreon

    Magic_Umbreon Researching Tower Scientist, Retired

    I know what's on every UK players' minds about this :wink:
  7. Jran Sakarra

    Jran Sakarra Active Member

    All we can do is sit back and watch and hope this is a good thing.
  8. spazcrackers

    spazcrackers New Member

    sounds like good news. if the head guy was ready to step down and this guy is ready to step up i see no reason for it not to be a good thing. time will tell i suppose. thx for the notice on this.

  9. badganondorf

    badganondorf New Member

    Mr. Chiba has really done very much for the whole Pokemon brand. From year 2002 Pokemon has grown a lot. And a change is never a bad thing. Mr. Okubo will surely bring many refreshing and new idea for the Pokemon.

    Thanks for the news.
  10. Pokeplayer

    Pokeplayer New Member

    MOre of a good thing....
  11. bullados

    bullados <a href="

    Gotta give Mr. Chiba his props. This game was DEAD 4 years ago, and now we're one of the top selling games in all zones in America! Brilliant man, even if we don't know exactly what went on behind closed doors.

    I share Pop's enthusiasm about Mr. Okubo after learning he's from the Seattle office. Best guess is that it means more of an interest in the TCG and its growth. I'd like to see the game become on the level of MTG as far as player base size goes. Just as long as it keeps the friendly competitive atmosphere, I'm fine with pretty much anything they do to the property.
  12. PkmnManiac

    PkmnManiac New Member

    The TCG didn't exist in 2003?
  13. PokePop

    PokePop Administrator

    OK, maybe not dead.
    But let's just say that it didn't fog a mirror held up to it's nose.
  14. PkmnManiac

    PkmnManiac New Member

    In other words, the TCG was popular for quite some time, correct?
  15. ColdCoates90

    ColdCoates90 Active Member

    What he means is that it was unpopular 4 years ago,but it made a recovery.

    Btw Pokepop,will you please answer my pms?
    Last edited: Dec 12, 2007
  16. Shellshock929

    Shellshock929 <a href="

    Wow, well I wish him luck in his future endeavors, and I hope the new President helps takes Pokemon to a whole new direction that will lead it to even more success. Without Chiba, who knows what would of happened 4 years ago with Pokemon.
  17. JandPDS

    JandPDS New Member

    A quick history of Pokemon TCG (As I understand it)

    Oh here is in a nutshell my understanding of the History of Pokemon TCG

    A video game designer for Nintendo came up with the Idea for Pocket monsters video game. From that came Pokemon Red and Blue. The game was a hit in Japan so it was released worldwide. As with most products in Japan that are marketed toward a Young audience, An anime was developed around the Pocket monsters theme. Then the animation became popular in Japan as well. This led to an explosion in marketing ideas to further cash in on the success of Pocket monsters. So Pokemon Plushies, Lunchboxes, Cell Phone Covers et all were licensed and released by Nintendo.

    This was all a little bit over a decade ago, and at this time the recent success of Magic the Gathering (the first Trading card game) by Wizards of the Coast, had led to many attempts by others to produce collectable card games. So Nintendo decided to pursue the possibility of forming a Collectable Trading Card Games based on the world of Pocket monsters. From this idea was born PCL (Pocket monsters Card Laboratories) the arm of Nintendo that was given the project to create and develop a Pocket monsters TCG. What they developed is pretty much the same game that we are playing today. PCL is still the creative team that is releasing the new sets of cards to this day. In fact over 99% of all Pokemon cards ever made were developed by the people at PCL. Notable exceptions like Dark Raichu were developed oversees (from Japan) first and latter were released in Japan.

    The Pocket monsters TGC was also successful in Japan. Soon all forms of Pocket monsters, Video Games, television shows and Trading card Games were set to be exported into the American Market.
    One quick snag came up, it seems a very small American Toy Company already held the US Copyright the Pocket monsters name for a toy completely unrelated to Nintendo’s product. Rather the bother to negotiate and purchase the Copy write for the name Pocket monsters, Nintendo made the decision the just release the product in the United States under a new name that Nintendo could copy write for their own selves. So that is how and why Pocket monsters in the US became known by the now famous name of Pokemon.

    Just like in Japan first the video games Red and Blue were released. They instantly became big sellers for the Original Nintendo Gameboy. Then Nintendo licensed the 4Kids company to produce an English translation of the Pocket monsters Anime for American television audiences. The show was soon released and instantly became the top rated animated syndicated series in the US. Then came time for the 3rd arm of the Pocket monsters (Pokemon) us invasion the Trading Card Game. For that Nintendo formed a partnership with Wizards of the Coast, the manufacturer of Magic, and authorized them to produce the TCG for all markets outside of Japan.

    By the time Wizards had the base set ready for its US release, the Pokemon craze was in full strength in the US. Wizards decided to capitalize on this opportunity to open their own retail outlets to sell the product. So not only were they handling the manufacture, distribution and Organized Play duties, but they would be selling the product directly to US consumers as well. So at the Grand Opening of the First ever Wizards of the Coast Store in the Northgate Mall in Seattle Washington, There was also the debut of the English version of the Pokemon TCG.

    To say that the Game was an instant success would be an understatement. The base set sold out of the entire production run of the 1st edition cards in a few weeks, and a month after that even the unlimited sets were hard to find. Prices of packs that originally retailed for $2.29 were selling for $5.00-$8.00 a pack in 2nd and 3rd markets like Gas Stations and Sports Card and Hobby Shops. By the time that the 2nd set Jungle came out Pokemon was so huge that at the Northgate Mall Wizards store people were lined up 2 hours prior to the mall opening for the chance to Purchase the 1st edition Cards. By the time that the store opened there were over 40 people in line (my wife and I were 24 and 25 by the way as we only got there an hour early). By the 3rd release of Fossil, Wizards was forced to institute a 10 pack per person rule to enable as many people to get packs as possible. I witnessed one person bring in 20 of his friends and they all stood in line just so he could purchase 200 packs. Wizards was rolling in Pokemon dollars. And they quickly expanded form one retail outlet to over 60 in a little over two years. Pokemon TCG sold mor product in its first two years then Majic did in its first 6 years. Everything seemed to be going so well that it seemed that Pokemon would never loose its popularity. Then things began to unravel a bit.

    While Pokemon was selling huge everywhere, Nintendo had toy license agreements with every major American Toy company except for one Hasbro Inc. Hasbro was furious that they were not getting any of the Pokemon action, so they decided to do something about it. They reached an agreement to purchase the privately held Wizards of the Coast Company and now they finally owned a piece of the Pokemon Pie.
    Well as with any Corporate behemoth Hasbro was about one thing only and that was the Bottom line, Maximize profits. Soon the Pokemon phenomenon peaked, leveled off and began a slow decline as crazes always do (Cabbage Patch kids anyone) And they realized that while the Pokemon money was great, it was decided that Wizards should focus more energy on the games it owned all by itself and not games like Pokemon where profits were shared with Nintendo. So a gradual and purposeful deemphasizing of the Pokemon line was began by Wizards of the Coast. First thing to go were the Prerelease Tournaments, which were a popular way to get the cards before they were released. Then the coupe de resistance was the surprise and previously unannounced decision to eliminate the 15 and up age group from tournament play. I remember going to South Center Mall for the 1st big tournament after this decision was made. Then after waiting in line for over 30 min. to register for the tournament, being told that I and my wife could no longer participate because we were too old as you now had to be 14 and under to play Pokemon. I noticed countless players from my league who were standing in line with their children also getting disappointed by being excluded from play.

    When we got home I got on my computer and sent a complaint email to Wizards Organized play asking what the heck happened, and why were players over 15 no longer being allowed to play Pokemon in the Tournaments. The response that I got from Wizards was that it was now the companies policy that players over 15 should start playing Magic the Gathering (No I am not making this up) And that if I really wanted to continue playing in Trading Card Game tournaments then I should start playing Magic.

    This was the response for Wizards Customer service. So it became abundantly clear that Hasbro was trying to discourage the people with jobs (i.e. players over 15) and disposable income to stop spending it on a product (Pokemon) where the profits from that sale were shared with another company (Nintendo)
    And instead get those players purchasing products where (like Magic) where all of the profits stayed with Hasbro. Needless to say this was a very Poor move to make, and at a time when new games like Yu-gi-Oh were starting to gain popularity, this move caused Pokemon TCG decline in sales to turn into a tailspin.

    Now Nintendo did not become the hugely successful company that it is today by being stupid. They realized that Wizards (Hasbro) did not have Pokemon’s best interest at heart any longer. So the decision was made to sever the relationship between Wizards of the Coast and Nintendo and a new Company was formed by Nintendo to handle the production, distribution and Organized play duties of the Pokemon TCG. This company was and is Pokemon USA. By this time the Pokemon TCG was almost dead, While the "Hold a Mirror to it and got no fog" line was a bit of an exaggeration, it was only a very slight one. The last set released by Wizards of the Coast was Sky ridge. And the 1st released by Pokemon USA was EX Ruby & Sapphire. In fact just 3 short years ago my wife and I were approached by the PTO of Washington with the idea for us to try to establish a Pokemon League in Snohomish County. The owner of the 1st card shop that we approached with the idea of hosting our league was so unimpressed with the prospect of having a Pokemon league in his store that he never even bothered to return our phone calls. We had a little better luck in the 2nd place we tried. That owner seemed a bit shocked when we asked him if he would host our league, and he asked replied "Isn't Pokemon Dead, and does anyone even play it anymore?" We assured him that yes pokemon did still exist and yes it was still being played. So he allowed us to start a league in his store, and now our league in Phoenix Games is one of the largest in Washington State. Each year that Pokemon USA has run the game, Pokemon has grown stronger and more popular the entire time.

    Through the hard work and dedication to Pokemon TCG by the many fine people at Pokemon USA and Nintendo, the trading card game was saved from the fate of other collectable games like X-files the TCG. And a certain death of utter obscurity was turned into the huge mega success that the Pokemon TCG is today. In the 8 years that Pokemon TCG has existed in the United States I do not think that the Organized play of this game has ever been any stronger then it is right now. Thank-you Pokemon USA.
    Last edited: Dec 13, 2007
  18. Jigglypuff666

    Jigglypuff666 New Member

    I think many UK players (like myself) will be hoping that Mr. Okubo will can help with the supply of League equipment. Or for the release of SW over here (well, people at league I go to don't know if it's legal or not yet anyway, I don't about the rest of the country).
    Things should get better, they can't exactly get much worse.
  19. PokePop

    PokePop Administrator

    JandPDS: Pretty good analysis and recap, Just one correction to fact that I can think of. Hasbro did have a piece of the Pokemon action before it got WotC. I believe it had the liscence for action figures. They just wanted more of the action.
    Some of your commentary assigns motives that may or may not be 100% correct, but it's probably not too far off.
    And yes, the "mirror" line was hyperbole. But is also wasn't too far off. Certainly if things had stayed at that level Pokemon would not be around today.
  20. SD PokeMom

    SD PokeMom Mod Supervisor Staff Member

    when did WotC ever have prerelease tourneys?


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