Nintendo president Satoru Iwata has passed away at the age of 55.
The well-respected CEO died of cancer of the bile duct. He had been struggling with health problems for some time, having missed last year’s E3 due to illness.
Iwata has received tributes from across the industry today in admiration of the man and his career. Iwata was known as not just the man that led Nintendo through some of its most successful years with the launch of the Wii and Nintendo DS and subsequent 3DS, but as an all round good man who respected his employees.
He started his career in game development at HAL Laboratory straight out of university. There he worked on games such as Earthbound and Kirby. He was later promoted to president of the firm.
In 2000, Iwata was named as the head of Nintendo’s corporate planning division, having previously supported development of titles such as Pokémon Gold and Silver and Pokémon Stadium.
Following the retirement of Nintendo president Hiroshi Yamauchi in 2002, Iwata was named as the company’s fourth president.
He has overseen the launch of the Wii, which has sold more than 100m units and was revered for expanding the home console market to casual gamers.
The Wii U has been unable to match its predecessor’s success however, and sluggish sales have resulted in tough times for Nintendo. Despite this however, and more sluggish Wii sales during the end of its lifespan, Iwata refused to enact layoffs for short-term financial gains.
In 2013, Iwata said: “If we reduce the number of employees for better short-term financial results employee morale will decrease and I sincerely doubt employees who fear that they may be laid off will be able to develop software titles that could impress people around the world.”
Iwata had been spearheading the company’s move to its next games system, currently codenamed the NX. He also agreed a deal to bring Nintendo’s vast portfolio of IP to mobile.
Below we have selected just a few tributes to Iwata from across the industry.
In remembrance of Mr. Satoru Iwata, Nintendo will not be posting on our social media channels today. pic.twitter.com/N2kR0OKEXh
— Nintendo of America (@NintendoAmerica) July 13, 2015
Sad day for Iwata-san’s family, friends, and gamers everywhere. His passion, creativity & leadership elevated our industry.
— Phil Spencer (@XboxP3) July 13, 2015
RIP Satoru Iwata, this planet has lost him far too soon, but he helped create so much joy while he was here, and that will live on.
— REX (@rexbox) July 13, 2015
Sad day for gaming. Endless thanks to Iwata-san. Contributed to the creation of so so much magic. Long live Nintendo & may he rest in peace
— Brandon Beck (@BrandonBeck) July 13, 2015
"Above all, video games are meant to be just one thing: Fun."
Terribly sad news about Iwata-san. A gaming legend.
— Graeme Boyd (@AceyBongos) July 13, 2015
Very sorry to hear of the death of Iwata san. A loss to the whole industry.
— David Braben (@DavidBraben) July 13, 2015
Goodbye Iwata-san. We lost you too soon. Thank you for helping to give so many people happiness.
— Shahid Kamal Ahmad (@shahidkamal) July 13, 2015
Thank you for everything, Mr. Iwata.
— PlayStation (@PlayStation) July 13, 2015