• Nintendo CEO Satoru Iwata has died at the age of 55 from bile duct cancer
• He was the first CEO not from Nintendo’s founding Yamauchi family
• He led Nintendo for 13 years & introduced several innovative products including the Wii
Nintendo revealed the sad news in a statement:
Nintendo Co. Ltd. deeply regrets to announce that President Satoru Iwata passed away on July 11, 2015 due to a bile duct growth.
Satoru Iwata had battled with bile cancer since 2014 when he first revealed that a routine medical examination led to its discovery. In a letter to shareholders he wrote “I was counseled that removal at an early stage would be the desirable medical option. Therefore I had surgery last week, and I came through it well, as predicted.” His surgery led to him missing the annual E3 video game trade event in 2014 and 2015. His recent appearances have shown him to have lost weight and look considerably thinner.
After graduating from university Iwata joined software publisher HAL Laboratory which led to him working on the programming for several Nintendo games including Pokemon Silver and Gold. He was promoted to president and helped return HAL from the brink of bankruptcy.
He joined Nintendo in 2000 and became the company president in 2002, which was regarded as an especially great achievement as he was the first CEO not related to the founding Yamauchi family by either blood or marriage.
After the underwhelming sales of the Nintendo Gamecube his leadership led to the introduction of several innovative products including the dual screen portable Nintendo DS and later the three-dimensional 3DS which are still bestsellers today. He also brought to market the Nintendo Wii with its original motion controls that caught the public’s and media’s attention and expanded the reach of games consoles to many non-gamers and the Wii U with its second-screen experience.
Nintendo has recently been criticised for a lack of features compared to PlayStation and Xbox but Iwata had made firm plans to take the company into the future. He made a partnership with Japanese mobile company DeNA to bring famous Nintendo characters to smartphones and tablets. He also revealed that a console, the Nintendo NX is being developed.
In the short term Nintendo will be led by Genyo Takeda and Shigeru Miyamoto.
There have been many messages of sympathy and respect from industry contemporaries.
Sony PlayStation’s head of Worldwide Studios Shuhei Yoshida wrote on Twitter in Japanese “We will pray for the soul of Iwata, he has been a great contributor to the industry.”
— Shuhei Yoshida (@yosp) July 13, 2015
Head of Xbox Phil Spencer wrote:
Sad day for Iwata-san’s family, friends, and gamers everywhere. His passion, creativity & leadership elevated our industry.
— Phil Spencer (@XboxP3) July 13, 2015
Nintendo fans have been posting messages of sympathy and artwork in sympathy.
Satoru Iwata is survived by his wife Kayoko Iwata. A funeral service will be held for him on the 17th July.