Nintendo’s Pokemon Go Guru Thanks USF

Talking Pikachus and Pokestops with Marketing Manager Tim Kwong MBA ’14


When Tim Kwong MBA ’14 clocks in at work, he doesn’t hesitate to hunt Pikachus and Jigglypuffs in the break room or look for Pokestops in the parking lot. Playing “Pokemon Go” is part of his job. 

Kwong is a marketing manager at Nintendo, in charge of promoting the Pokemon brand as well as the company’s 3DS gaming system, which will release a new Pokemon game in the fall. He’s right in the middle of the “Pokemon Go” craze, which has dominated headlines and turned millions of ordinary Americans into Pokemon fanatics overnight. 

“No one could have predicted this phenomenon,” says Kwong, whose team has been helping hype the Pokemon franchise for the 20th anniversary of the game. “It’s been a great ride.”

The Poke-expert will be sharing his insider perspective on “Pokemon Go,” his thoughts on the rapidly changing video game industry, and the story of how USF helped him get to where he is at a campus event Aug. 17.

Anthony Patino, associate marketing professor at the School of Management and former marketing and sales guru for companies like Sony, will lead the conversation.

Set to expand Pokemon’s domain

Kwong began his Nintendo career as an assistant marketing manager in 2011, planning and coordinating events like game releases. A year later, while pursing his MBA part-time at USF, he was promoted to head up marketing strategy for the 3DS. Now he’s busy preparing for the November launch of the 3DS game Pokemon Sun and Moon, and working on ways to direct the new tide of “Pokemon Go” fans to the product. 

He thanks USF for giving him a boost up the corporate ladder.    

“I think having a USF MBA degree on my resume helped prove that I was thinking above and beyond just being the events guy,” Kwong says. Today, he continues to draw on marketing techniques he studied in class, like how to target new audiences.

“What I learned in my classes has also helped me in presentations that I give to executives, and helps inform how we launch products at Nintendo,” Kwong says.

Being creative and confident

As a Nintendo spokesman, Kwong presents regularly at the Electronic Entertainment Expo, or E3, a major video game expo in Los Angeles. Before USF, he was rarely asked to speak in public.

“Being an MBA student, you have to give a lot of presentations,” he says. “You have to get over any sort of fear you have of speaking. At USF, every professor challenges you to be creative, confident, and to take a stand for what you believe in.”

Though promoting Pikachu is work for Kwong, he isn’t immune to the Pokemania surrounding “Pokemon Go.”

He recently ran the San Francisco half marathon. “A little part of me wanted to have the game on the entire time,” he says. 

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