Tragic news has struck the gaming world today, as Nintendo has announced the sudden passing of current President and CEO, Satoru Iwata, at age 55.
Iwata’s health problems have long been documented. In fact, his ongoing health issues kept him from personally attending E3 2014. Even so, his death has come as a complete shock to fans and the industry at large.
The brief statement from Nintendo reads as follows:
Nintendo Co., Ltd. deeply regrets to announce that President Satoru Iwata passed away on July 11, 2015 due to a bile duct growth.
Iwata was born on December 6th, 1959, and spent the bulk of his career at Nintendo. His early gaming career was at HAL Laboratory, where the young Iwata helped create classic games such as Kirby and EarthBound. In 2000, he accepted a Director position at Nintendo itself, and shortly thereafter was named Nintendo’s President and CEO.
During Iwata’s time at Nintendo, he became the face of the company, and ushered in Nintendo’s most successful financial area with the Wii and the Nintendo DS. Iwata was also around for the company’s weakest moments, as was the case with the GameCube and the Wii U, the latter of which continues to struggle in sales.
However, Iwata was always quick to admit the company’s faults, and always wanted to do right by fans. Iwata’s passion for the gaming industry and for Nintendo fans cannot be overstated. It was under Iwata’s leadership that some of the most beloved Nintendo games ever made have been released, such as Super Mario Galaxy and Metroid Prime, among countless others. He will not be easily replaced.
Fans will miss Iwata’s quirky Nintendo Direct presentations, as well as his funny and memorable E3 digital events. He helped pull Nintendo from its darkest days to achieving unprecedented success with the Wii, a system that, despite its severe lack of third party support or hardware power, truly revolutionized the gaming industry.
Despite his health issues, fans were expecting Iwata to stick around for many more years to come, as he was set to lead Nintendo into the mobile realm with the company’s DeNA partnership. Furthermore, Iwata recently announced the existence of the next Nintendo home console, currently known under the code name Nintendo NX.
The Nintendo NX is rumored to be releasing as early as July of 2016, with production set to begin in October of this year. Whether or not those rumors are true or not remains to be seen, but in any case, having a new Nintendo system shown without Iwata there to unveil it to the world just won’t be the same.
Rest in peace, Iwata, and thanks for the countless Nintendo memories over the years. You will be dearly missed.