Nintendo CEO Satoru Iwata Dies at 55
Nintendo President Satoru Iwata passed away on July 11, 2015 at age 55 from a bile duct growth, according to a statement released by Nintendo. He is succeeded temporarily by Genyo Takeda and Shigeru Miyamoto until his replacement is found.
If his name didn’t immediately ring a bell, his projects may; Mr. Iwata first worked as a programmer at Nintendo affiliate HAL Laboratories in the 1980s where he contributed to extremely well-known games such as Super Smash Bros. for Nintendo 64, and the Kirby games. As the company faced bankruptcy in 1993, Mr. Iwata was promoted to President where he steered the company back toward financial stability. During his tenure he still worked directly on projects, including several games in the Pokémon series.
In 2002 Satoru Iwata became President of Nintendo, only the fourth person to hold that position since Nintendo’s birth as a playing card in 1889. That wasn’t a typo, Nintendo has only had four CEOs in over a century.
During Mr. Iwata’s time as President, Nintendo had an innovative streak, releasing the Nintendo DS, successor to the Game Boy, and the iconic Wii, the replacement for the poorly-performing GameCube of 2001. His legacy, however may be that which is yet to come. In March of this year, Nintendo announced that they were developing gaming applications for smartphones, allowing you to play iconic games like Super Mario Bros. on a non-console device with gameplay optimized for smartphone gestures. In the face of increasing competitions from Sony’s Playstation and Microsoft’s Xbox, Nintendo still has the beloved characters from Millenials’ childhoods. Bringing these to phones could be huge for Nintendo, and terrible for any other company trying to get their employees to work if they have access to their favorite old games on their phones.
As the internet mourns, many articles also recall how friendly and down-to-earth Mr. Iwata was, even while battling cancer. The world has lost a visionary and an all-around good guy.
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