In what feels like the end of an era, Nintendo President Satoru Iwata has died aged 55.
“Nintendo Co., Ltd. deeply regrets to announce that President Satoru Iwata passed away on July 11, 2015 due to a bile duct growth,” said Nintendo in a brief statement to investors that was issued overnight.
Iwata had been suffering from ill health for some time, a matter which led to him skipping his planned attendance of the annual E3 event in 2014. His passing was as a result of a tumor on his bile duct, for which he had been receiving medical care.
Iwata first joined Nintendo in the 1980s as a programmer on games such as Balloon Fight and the classic EarthBound. He was made a Director in 2000, before taking the role of President in 2002 after the passing of Hiroshi Yamauchi, making Iwata only the fourth president in Nintendo’s 125-year history.
As President of Nintendo, Iwata oversaw a time of great transition. Famously championing the “Blue Ocean” business strategy, it was Iwata who greenlit the Nintendo Wii, DS, 3DS and Wii U. He also led the company to be more open to mobile gaming, which lead to last year’s announcement that Nintendo had partnered with mobile gaming giant DeNa.
Despite his role as one of the most prominent executives in the games industry, Iwata was known for his love of fun and managed to strike up a rapport with Nintendo fans across the world. By situating himself front and center as the presenter of the Nintendo Direct broadcasts, and his regular series Iwata Asks, he displayed a willingness to engage directly with fans – something which is rare in this industry.
There are two potential candidates to succeed Iwata as President of Nintendo: Shigeru Miyamoto, and Genyo Takeda. While Takeda is largely an unknown figure, Miyamoto is well-loved among fans, and is the creator of Super Mario Bros. and The Legend of Zelda. Takeda has taken the role of Acting Representative Director for the time being, until a final vote sometime later this year.
Satoru Iwata, you will be sorely missed. Gomeifuku wo inorimasu.