Nintendo has announced that its president and CEO, Satoru Iwata, died on Saturday. He was 55, and the cause of death was stated as a bile duct growth. Iwata took some time off for health reasons last year and had surgery to remove a tumor, returning later in the year.
Iwata took over as president from longtime boss Hiroshi Yamauchi in 2002, and led the company to huge success with the Nintendo DS and Wii consoles. He formerly worked as a programmer at Nintendo affiliate HAL, contributing to games like EarthBound, Balloon Fight, and the Kirby series.
Iwata led Nintendo to huge success
Aside from his executive role, Iwata was a very well-known figure to Nintendo followers from his appearances in the company's Nintendo Direct broadcasts and his "Iwata Asks" series of interviews with developers. With the Wii U failing to perform on the level of its predecessor, Iwata recently announced new initiatives for the company including a move into mobile gaming and a mysterious "Quality of Life" program.
Nintendo hasn't announced a successor, but has noted that Genyo Takeda and Shigeru Miyamoto will remain as decision-making representative directors of the company. "I am surprised at this sudden news and overcome with sadness," Miyamoto told The Wall Street Journal. Although Iwata's health issues were well-publicized, his death comes as a major shock given his recent return to the spotlight. He did not, however, attend the E3 conference last month, explaining that Nintendo didn't have any new hardware to announce and that the company had an investors meeting the following week.