Today is a sad day for the gaming industry.
On 13th July (Monday), Japanese multinational consumer electronics company Nintendo released a short statement, announcing that President Satoru Iwata has passed away.
The statement reads:
Nintendo Co., Ltd. deeply regrets to announce that President Satoru Iwata passed away on July 11, 2015 due to a bile duct growth.
He was only 55 years old.
The gaming industry was well aware of Itawa’s illness for a long time as he was forced to skip last year’s Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3) conference due to his deteriorating health. He was also forced to skip the company’s annual shareholder meeting a few months later after undergoing an invasive medical procedure to remove a growth from his bile duct.
At that time, in the wake of concerns over his health, he took to Twitter to reassure his fans that he was “progressing well:
— 任天堂株式会社 (@Nintendo) November 6, 2014
Translation (via Kotaku):
I saw many worried comments over how thin I’ve become. The truth is that after a major operation, I lost weight, but during these past two and a half months, thankfully my weight has stabilised, and I’m progressing well. I would truly like to thank my doctors, the hospital staff, and everyone who has assisted me.
Iwata, who is a talented programmer, began working at Nintendo’s HAL Laboratory in the 1980s. He worked on games like Balloon Fight and EarthBound, subsequently developing the Kirby and Super Smash Bros. franchises. He became a Director of the company in 2000 and succeeded Hiroshi Yamauchi as the company’s president in May 2002. During his time as President, he pushed the development of the Nintendo DS and Wii consoles in 2006, helping the company to become financially successful among other game console manufacturers. He almost developed a cult status as the host of the Nintendo Direct programs for overseeing the launches the GameCube, Nintendo DS, Nintendo 3DS, Wii and the most recent Wii U.
An immensely popular figure in the gaming industry, he has been battling the growth on his bile duct for the last few years. Though he wrote in June 2014 that his health has improved, he unfortunately succumbed to the bile duct cancer at the age of 55. According to Nintendo, Genyo Takeda (Representative Director; Senior Managing Director) and Shigeru Miyamoto (Representative Director; Senior Managing Director) will jointly run the company until a new President is selected.
Fans and members of the gaming industry were in shock and disbelief, but they were quick to react to the passing of the Nintendo by tweeting their tributes and sending their condolences to Iwata’s family:
Thank you for everything, Mr. Iwata.
— PlayStation (@PlayStation) July 13, 2015
“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, GDC 2005
— Lorenzo Grajales (@renzosh) July 13, 2015
Sad day for Iwata-san’s family, friends, and gamers everywhere. His passion, creativity & leadership elevated our industry.
— Phil Spencer (@XboxP3) July 13, 2015
RIP Iwata you wonderful goof pic.twitter.com/KTKYZqj0Ab
— The Doof Worrier (@alex_navarro) July 13, 2015
Friendly reminder at how amazing Iwata was at his job. pic.twitter.com/XP81Bpmswm
— Balrog (@BalrogGameRoom) July 13, 2015
— Ashly Burch (@ashly_burch) July 13, 2015
Rest in Peace, Mr. Iwata. You will be missed.