Satoru Iwata, president and CEO of Nintendo, has passed away. The sad news came via a brief statement from Nintendo, which noted that Iwata died yesterday, July 11, from complications due to a growth on his bile duct. He was 55.
Iwata got his start in the industry as a programmer at HAL Laboratories, contributing to classic titles like EarthBound and Balloon Fight. He became president of HAL in 1993, a position he held until the studio was acquired by Nintendo in the year 2000. When the longstanding president of Nintendo Hiroshi Yamauchi stepped down two years later, Iwata was named his successor. He was only the fourth man in history to serve as Nintendo’s president.
Under his leadership, the company saw great success with the Wii home console and its line of DS handhelds. He also oversaw rockier times for the Big N, such as the slower than anticipated start of the 3DS and the continuing slow sales of the Wii U. Unlike many other gaming CEOs, Iwata kept closely involved with the day to day process of development. He served as a developer or executive producer on a staggering number of titles and, thanks to the company’s recent push towards directly communicating with fans through Nintendo Direct videos, he was a highly visibly figure within the gaming community.
Between playful videos that showed him showing down with Nintendo of America president Reggie Fils-Aime or hosting E3 festivities in puppet form and a surprisingly insightful series of “Iwata Asks” interview pieces, Satoru Iwata was a man whose contagious passion for gaming made him feel uncommonly genuine and human among high up industry executives. I think I can speak for the entire staff of EGM when I say he will be deeply missed.