The video game world lost one of its most beloved visionaries over the weekend, as Nintendo president Satoru Iwata died on July 11, 2015 from complications related to a bile duct growth. He was 55.
Iwata had been president of Nintendo since 2002 and oversaw the company’s resurgence in the mid-2000s with the combined success of the Wii and DS game consoles. Before taking the top job at the House of Mario, Iwata was a programmer for HAL Laboratory, best known for handling the Super Smash Bros. and Kirby franchises.
In recent years, Iwata took much of the blame for his company’s mishandling of the Wii U platform, but received praise from the gaming community for his commitment to his company’s employees — he notably refused to order layoffs in response to Nintendo’s decreased revenue. Instead, Iwata took a deep salary cut to spare jobs, a move that many saw as a noble response for the president of a multi-national corporation to take.
Response to news of Iwata’s passing has been almost universally mournful and respectful, with many citing his legacy and emphasis on being a fun, amiable corporate executive who just wanted his company’s games to be “fun for everyone”, as being attributes that are far too rare in gaming and corporate culture as a whole:
Satoru Iwata was a wonderful personality in the gaming industry and his love for Nintendo and videogames was powerful and infectious. <3
— Victor Lucas (@Victor_Lucas) July 13, 2015
Iwata's work has meant so much to me throughout so many different phases of my life. I'll always cherish that.
— megashaun (@megashaun) July 13, 2015
Just heard the news about Satoru Iwata's passing. I don't know what to say. He was a rare treat of an executive. Sleep well, Mr. Iwata.
— Sterling! (@JimSterling) July 13, 2015
It is unclear at this time who will take Iwata’s place as president of Nintendo, but it is speculated that Shigeru Miyamoto, the legendary developer behind the Super Mario and Legend of Zelda series, will take his friend’s place, at least in the interim.