Gaming giant Nintendo today confirmed that company CEO – the much beloved Satoru Iwata – has sadly passed away following a battle with illness. He was 55.
Nintendo issued a short statement earlier this morning confirming that Iwata passed away on Saturday due to a “bile duct growth.” Iwata’s health issues had been well documented, with the company head missing last year’s E3 Expo in order to undergo surgery.
Iwata took command of the company in 2002, taking over from Hiroshi Yamauchi – becoming the company’s fourth president, and first from outside of the founding Yamauchi family.
During his tenure as the head of Nintendo, Iwata oversaw the company’s resurgence with the development of the Wii and the Nintendo DS. He also oversaw quieter periods for the company with the launch of the GameCube and the Wii U – the latter of which he took responsibility for, halving his salary to help cut costs. In latter years he also faced criticism for his reluctance to develop mobile-friendly games.
However, Iwata remained a well loved figure within the gaming industry, with a strong public persona fuelled by his “Iwata Asks” video series in which he opened the window into the development processes of game creation.
In his early career, Iwata served as a developer and programmer himself with Nintendo subsidiary HAL, contributing to games like EarthBound, Balloon Fight, as well as working on the popular Kirby series.
Iwata was one of the chief figures in the dawn of a new generation of console gaming. His impact is great, and his presence will be sorely missed by the entire industry.
RIP, Satoru Iwata.
Photo: Kevork Djansezian via Getty Images.