What a sad day for gaming.
Satoru Iwata was the fourth President and CEO of Nintendo.
Iwata was born in December, 1959 and raised in Sapporo, Japan. He indulged in his passion for game programming very early on in his life when he self taught and produced simple electronic games at his home during his high school years.
The several simple games that Iwata produced were made via the use of an electronic calculator and he would share these games with his schoolmates, watching his friends enjoying playing these games pushed Satoru into pursuing a career as a game developer/producer.
After finishing high school, Iwata was attended to the Tokyo Institute of Technology, where he majored in computer science. While at the school he also did freelance work as a programmer for HAL Laboratory Inc., a game developer that often collaborated closely with Nintendo several times.
Satoru Iwata eventually joined HAL fulltime where he helped to develop the games; Balloon Fight, EarthBound, and the Kirby franchise.
Iwata was eventually promoted to president of HAL in 1993. Although not part of Nintendo at the time, Iwata assisted in the development of the Pokémon series. Then in 2000, Iwata took a position at Nintendo as the head of its corporate planning division.
Satoru became the first Nintendo president who was unrelated to the Yamauchi family through blood or marriage in 2002.
Iwata’s promotion was not an easy path for him to take on. At the time, Nintendo was not performing as well as their competitors, with Nintendo’s latest hardware release, the GameCube under performing compared to Sony’s PlayStation 2 and Microsoft’s Xbox. During this time, Nintendo’s profits took a huge dive and in response, Iwata took a pay cut and ordered several of Nintendo’s executives to do the same.
However, under his charge at Nintendo, Iwata helped to lead a revitalization of their handheld system with the Nintendo DS. He also strenuously pushed on the development of the Wii platform which introduced the use of motion control-based video games. Both the Nintendo DS and Wii proved highly successful to the company, and helped to nearly double the stock price of Nintendo.
Iwata also worked on The Legend of Zelda, Mario, and the Animal Crossing franchise for Nintendo and even He also appeared in a cameo role in WarioWare: Smooth Moves, where he is referred to as “Shop Manager Iwata”.
Satoru Iwata was diagnosed with cancer of the bile duct, yet he continued to work and was even one of the main people behind Nintendo getting into mobile gaming.
In 2014, Nintendo announced that Iwata would not be present at E3 2014 due to medical-related reasons.
On July 12, 2015, Nintendo announced that Iwata died on July 11th at the age of 55 due to complications with a bile duct growth.
Satoru Iwata leaves behind one of the strongest, most memorable and loved careers in gaming.
Satoru Iwata: “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.”
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