Remembering Satoru Iwata
It is with great sadness that we here at QueueTimes report the passing of Nintendo President Satoru Iwata. According to an announcement from Nintendo, Iwata suffered from a tumor on his bile duct that unfortunately led to his early and unexpected passing at the age of 55 on July 11, 2015. While the industry and fans alike mourn the loss of such a great man, it is important to remember the joy that this man and the creations he brought us. So in honor of his memory, we are remembering Satoru Iwata through the incredible things he achieved in his amazing career in the video game industry.
Before working at Nintendo, Iwata was hired at HAL Labratory right after graduating from the Tokyo Institute of Technology, bringing us games such as Balloon Fight, Earthbound, and, most notably, Kirby. When the company was on the verge of bankruptcy in 1993, Iwata stepped in as President of HAL Laboratory and turned the company around, completely stabilizing its financial situation. He then went on to help found Creatures, Inc., which was established in 1995 by Tsunekazu Ishihara. Even though he didn’t work for Nintendo at the time, Iwata helped in developing Pokemon Gold and Silver, which was released for the GameBoy Color in 1999. At the same time, Iwata also helped create Pokemon Stadium for the Nintendo 64. In 2000, Iwata took a position at Nintendo as the head of its corporate planning division. When Hiroshi Yamauchi, the company’s president since 1949, retired on May 31, 2002, Iwata took over as Nintendo’s fourth president with Yamauchi’s blessing. At the time, Nintendo had just released the Game Cube and was not doing as well as the competing consoles on the market. After he took control, Iwata changed the way that Nintendo did business. Instead of focusing on developing hardware that was comparable with the capabilities of the competitors, Nintendo changed its focus to developing novel and entertaining hardware and games. Under his command, Iwata led Nintendo in revolutionizing handheld gaming, going from the GameBoy to the DS. He even pushed the development of the Wii platform. In more recent years of his tenure as CEO and President of Nintendo, he saw the release of the 3DS and the Wii U. In 2015, Iwata switched part of Nintendo’s focus to the growing mobile game market, creating a partnership with mobile provider DeNA to publish titles, since their sales for traditional hardware console began to falter.
Since he had a background in programming, Iwata was an exceptional leader for Nintendo, but more than that, Iwata was as loved by Nintendo fans as he was by Nintendo developers. Iwata was known to follow and even respond to fan activity on social media. Through his care for the community and his own love of games, Satoru Iwata made Nintendo the delightfully entertaining game and console company that it is today. He first started having troubles with a tumor on a bile duct in his liver in 2014, when he missed E3 that June to have it removed. It was complications from this tumor that inevitably proved to be fatal.
The gaming community as a whole feels the loss of such an incredible leader who brought us such wonderful games. His most popular quote on the lips of every fan and the fingertips of every writer is, “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.” We will miss you, Iwata-sama. Sayonara.