Nintendo released a brief statement announcing the sudden death of Nintendo president Satoru Iwata on July 11, 2015.
Forced to skip last year’s E3 due to health complications, Satoru spent time in the hospital to remove a bile duct growth, making a full recovery a few months later. However, according to Nintendo, a second growth was the cause of death. It’s currently unknown as to whether or not Iwata was undergoing surgery at the time.
As the fourth president of Nintendo, Satoru Iwata contributed to many of the characters and games we grew up with, including Kirby Dream World, Super Mario Sunshine, Metroid Prime, Animal Crossing and The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker. His most notable accomplishment was achieving a whopping 41% increase in profits for Nintendo back in 2001, the year of the GameCube’s launch. By focusing on making games easier to pick up and get into while competitors shifted their efforts to increasing complexity, Satoru brought a huge sum of money into the company through the Cube, millions more than they would have received without his involvement. His Nintendo DS and Wii were both wildly successful, despite the doubts held by the gaming industry at the time of development.
Satoru has earned the respect of game developers and gamers alike – and the respect is well deserved. His GDC speech, “Heart of a Gamer,” demonstrates his love for the industry, future plans for Nintendo, and his understanding of gamers’ individual personalities, wants, likes, and fears. A full transcript is available for those unable to watch the video.
“One thing that has not changed – and will not change – is our nature as a form of entertainment. Like any other entertainment medium, we must create an emotional response in order to succeed. Laughter, fear, joy, affection, surprise, and – most of all – accomplishment. In the end, triggering these feelings from our players is the true judgment of our work. This is the bottom line measurement of success.”
Satoru Iwata made Nintendo into what it is today, and will be remembered fondly as one of the most influential members of the gaming industry.