Satoru Iwata, the president and CEO of Nintendo, has died aged 55. Iwata had run the company since 2002.
After graduating in computer science, Iwata began working as a programmer at HAL and help develop games including Super Smash Bros and the Pokemon series. He joined Microsoft as an executive in 2000 before becoming the fourth Nintendo President and the first outside the Yamauchi family that founded the company. His predecessor Hiroshi Yamauchi, who turned Nintendo from a playing card company into a video games giant, died two years ago.
During Iwata’s reign, he made a conscious effort to pursue a wider audience for gaming, as demonstrated by the successful launches of the DS and Wii console series. That said, the company did face strong challenges during those years with both Sony and Microsoft becoming major players in the console market.
Iwata died from complications related to a tumor in the bile duct. His illness had been known about since last year and he even showed some dark humor by updating his online Mii character to reflect his weight loss.
While it’s far too early to speculate with any certainty, the most popular theory seems to be that Iwata will be succeeded by Shigeru Miyamoto, the creator of Donkey Kong, Mario and Zelda.
Iwata will likely best be remembered for a 2005 speech in which he said:
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.