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The President Of Nintendo, Satoru Iwata, Has Died


Satoru Iwata, the president of Nintendo, has died. He was 55. Nintendo confirmed his passing today in a brief statement.

Last year, Iwata skipped E3 on advice from his doctor not to travel overseas.  Iwata underwent surgery to deal with a growth found in his bile duct, which in a note to company shareholders he acknowledged could be difficult to treat.

Iwata was a graduate from the Tokyo Institute of Technology in 1982, and eventually started HAL Laboratory with a group of friends. As a programmer at HAL, Iwata has contributed some of Nintendo’s top franchises, including Kirby’s Dream Land, Earthbound and Super Smash Bros.


In 2002, Iwata went on to become the fourth president of Nintendo, the first of whom was not part of the Yamauchi family. As president, Iwata oversaw two of Nintendo’s biggest successes–the release of the Nintendo DS and the release of Wii. Iwata’s reign as president was not without controversy, however.  Iwata strongly advocated for Nintendo to continue to make video game consoles, and was resistant to the suggestion that Nintendo shift to 3rd party developer for Sony and Microsoft.

In recent years, Iwata clashed with shareholders when the launches of the Nintendo 3DS and the Wii U fell short of expectations.  When the company’s share price was falling, Iwata refused to order layoffs.  Iwata cultivated his personable persona both inside and outside of the office.  His “Iwata Asks” and Nintendo Direct video series helped push Nintendo in to the modern era of corporate communication, and cultivate closer relationships with fans.


Despite his most recent role being business oriented. Iwata has always self-identified as a developer, first.  In a keynote address to the 2005 Game Developers Conference at San Francisco, Iwata spoke of his love for video games and his personal origins as a programmer and a developer.

“People sometimes ask me what I did when I was hired at HAL,” he said. “The answer is that I was a programmer. And an engineer. And a designer. And I marketed games. I also ordered food. And I helped clean up. And it was all great fun.”