Satoru Iwata, president of Nintendo, has passed away. He was 55 years old.
Nintendo announced that the much-loved CEO died on July 11 “due to a bile duct growth.”
Two representative directors remain at the company: Genyo Takeda and Shigeru Miyamoto.
Iwata was first appointed as the director of Nintendo in June 2000. He was promoted to the position of president and representative director of Nintendo in 2002, following the resignation of Hiroshi Yamauchi. He also assumed responsibilities as CEO of Nintendo of America in 2013.
Iwata was absent from E3 last year due to health issues, later revealed to be a bile duct growth which was removed via surgery. He resumed his regular work schedule in October last year, although there were concerns about his rapid weight loss following treatment. Iwata was not present at this year’s E3, staying in Japan in order to focus on Nintendo’s “other areas of business.”
Prior to joining Nintendo, Iwata worked at HAL Laboratory as a programmer and designer. During his time there he worked on several games including the Kirby, Earthbound, and Balloon Fight series. He would go on to become president of HAL in 1993.
Iwata garnered the adoration of fans and the industry as a whole through his candid demeanor and willingness to embody the playful nature of Nintendo’s games, even as CEO of the company. Last year he took a 50 percent pay cut to apologise for the company’s disappointing financial results, following lower Wii U sales than was projected.
In addition to his regular Iwata Asks column, in which he would interview key members of various upcoming games, Iwata was also the face of the company’s Nintendo Direct events. These streams, while primarily designed to make game announcements and provide updates on ongoing projects, became something more thanks to weird and wonderful skits, many of which Iwata would participate in.
“On my business card, I am a corporate president. In my mind, I am a game developer. But in my heart, I am a gamer.” Satoru Iwata, 1959-2015