It goes without saying that the tragic passing of Nintendo President and CEO Satoru Iwata has surely been felt by the gaming community as a whole. Whether you disliked Nintendo and its business practices or revelled in the firm’s continued need to innovate, the outpour of support from all creeds and types of players has been overwhelming, with everyone from the President of Sony Computer Entertainment to the head of Xbox offering up their sincere condolences about the loss of such a well-known and respected leader.
There’s no question that Iwata-san helped carve out the existing gaming landscape during his time atop Nintendo, but in his mind he was always a game developer. Overseeing the likes of such beloved franchises as Earthbound and Kirby during his tenure at HAL Laboratory, it’s no secret that the executive knew how to make fun and memorable games. And really, that’s something that Nintendo has always strived to do – something it always has done.
The Legacy of Satoru Iwata
All of those involved with the company are heartbroken by their leader’s passing, and it’s true that Nintendo will never be the same. No longer will gamers be able to tune into a Nintendo Direct presentation to see the head of a multi-billion dollar company comedically stare at a bunch of bananas or ask fans to “please understand” in the wake of a game’s delay, and that’s where the bulk of Iwata’s appeal has always been.
There was always a demeanor to Satoru Iwata that made him likeable. He wasn’t afraid of being presented on-camera as a goof and he genuinely seemed excited whenever he was on a stage representing his firm, and that mantra carried through to the very core of the company as well. It’s devastating to think that the CEO will never again be featured in any of Nintendo’s pre-recorded announcements, nor will his signature inflection bring about the words “directly to you” with that all too familiar hand gesture.
Nintendo’s Future Without Iwata
While the immediate impact of Iwata-san’s passing is apparent, the path that he’s set Nintendo on will be felt for many years to come. Setting aside the uphill battle the company has faced with its Wii U console, there are a lot of positive changes that are coming to the company and they can be traced back to deals made throughout the time that Iwata held the reins.
One of the largest will be the much anticipated arrival of Nintendo’s first mobile game later this year, following the announcement of the Big N’s partnership with DeNA. This will undoubtedly do amazing things for the house of Mario’s profits and it speaks true to the direction that Iwata set the Big N on in terms of outside partnerships. Now more than ever, Nintendo has opened up the doors to third-party publishers to do something with its IP that it was never able to as a result of limited resources.
Fans the world over have seen the likes of Hyrule Warriors and even the ability to play as Donkey Kong and Bowser in the next Skylanders appear as a result of this, and reports have since confirmed that even more partnerships akin to those are set for the future. Sharing IP in a supervised environment is something that Satoru Iwata opened the once-stubborn gaming empire up to, and the deals currently residing behind closed-doors were seeds sowed by the ever-present President of Nintendo.
The loss of a one of a kind leader like Iwata is immediately devastating, but the ramifications of his passing won’t truly be felt for years to come. The CEO has laid out a very clear path for his company and it’s one that, for the first time in a while, seems to be equal parts promising from both a business and fan perspective. Nintendo will continue on just like it always has, but no hardware announcement or game reveal will ever again be blessed by the quirky exec’s infectious smile or wacky sense of humor.
At the end of the day, Nintendo not only lost its captain, but we’ve all lost a creator and fellow gamer that only ever wanted to give consumers one thing – something fun. In the end, one quote best summarizes Satoru Iwata’s state of mind during his time as Nintendo’s President and CEO:
“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.”
Rest in peace, Mr. Iwata. Your hard work has paved the way for generations of future game players and creators, and the path Nintendo has been sent on under your guidance is seemingly a bright one. Your legacy is unquestionably cemented as an ever-lasting pillar in the company’s history, as you leave behind a title for your successor, but a hole that can never truly be filled by anyone.
The hearts of everyone at Game Rant go out to the family, friends, and colleagues of Iwata-san. There will truly never be another like him.