Nintendo President Satoru Iwata dead at 55

Reuters

Nintendo CEO and President Satoru Iwata has died at the age of 55. Paul Chapman reports.

Nintendo have announced via a brief statement that Satoru Iwata passed away on July 11th at the age of 55.

Iwata was suffering with a bile duct growth prior to his death.

In 2014, he released a statement to shareholders that revealed health concerns and surgery that he underwent which forced him to miss last year's E3.

YOUTUBE GETTY IMAGES MARIO ANZUONI/REUTERS PHIL McCARTEN/REUTERS PHIL McCARTEN/REUTERS TORU HANAI/REUTERS TORU HANAI/REUTERS TORU HANAI/REUTERS BRAD RICKERBY/REUTERS

The gaming world is mourning the death of Nintendo president Satoru Iwata.

Nintendo President Satoru Iwata in May, 2015 in Osaka, Japan.

Satoru Iwata, President of Nintendo at the Electronic Entertainment Expo, or E3, in Los Angeles June 7, 2011.

Satoru Iwata before presenting the new Nintendo 3DS at the E3 2010.

Nintendo's President Satoru Iwata presents the Wii U before E3 2011.

Nintendo Co President Satoru Iwata bows during their strategy and earnings briefings in Tokyo.

Nintendo President and Chief Executive Satoru Iwata in Tokyo, last year.

Nintendo President Satoru Iwata speaks during the Nintendo 3DS Conference 2011 in Tokyo September 13, 2011.

Nintendo CEO Satoru Iwata on the floor of the Nintendo exhibit at the Electronics Entertainment Expo in Los Angeles, May 14, 2003.

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Iwata's career in videogames began with his work at HAL Laboratories in the 80s, where he aided in the creation of legendary franchises Kirby and Earthbound.

He was promoted to the position of Director at Nintendo in 2000, and was eventually promoted to President in 2002, the first president outside the founding Yamauchi family.

This break in tradition led to a profound shift in the company culture, changing it from a deeply secretive business that had been struggling against rivals Sony and Microsoft into an accessibility-focused company that brought gaming to the masses with Wii and Nintendo DS.

He was promoted once more to CEO of Nintendo America in 2013.

Under Iwata, the company experienced mixed results financially.


Satoru Iwata was a programmer at HAL Laboratory when Kirby's Dream Land was created in 1992.

While systems such as the Gamecube and Wii U struggled, there was also astronomical success with the Nintendo DS, 3DS, and Wii.

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His replacement was not immediately announced, but the company said star game designer Shigeru Miyamaoto will remain in the leadership team along with Genyo Takeda.

Iwata had been poised to lead Nintendo through another stage after it recently did an about-face and said it will start making games for smartphones - meaning that Super Mario the plumber will start arriving on cellphones and tablets.

The falloff in appetite for game machines in the past few years was partly because people are increasingly playing games or doing social media and other activities on smartphones. Nintendo has repeatedly had to lower prices on gadgets to woo buyers.

Until the recent shift in strategy, company officials including Iwata had repeatedly rejected the idea of developing games for mobile devices, a market that they brushed off for years as irrelevant.

In March, Nintendo announced an alliance with Japanese mobile game company DeNA to develop games for mobile devices.

The company returned to profit in the fiscal year ended March 2015 after several years of losses.

Nintendo pioneered game machines since the 1980s, developing one of the first machines and the hit Game Boy hand-held machine.

Even given his limited English, he became revered outside Japan for his quirky humour, providing plenty of ammo for gif-makers by dressing up as a rabbit or enigmatically regarding a bunch of bananas to tease upcoming news.

He was also the friendly face of Nintendo during many E3 Press Conferences and Digital Events, earning himself a great many fans for his sense of humour and bright personality.

"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,"  Iwata said in 2005.

He will be missed but never forgotten.

A funeral service will be held on July 17. He is survived by his wife Kayoko. The company declined to disclose other details of his family.

-AP/Fairfax Australia/NZGamer

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