Satoru Iwata died on Saturday, July 11, at the young age of 55 due to a bile duct growth.
Nintendo issued a Notification of Death and Personnel Change of a Representative Director (President) on Monday morning, announcing Iwata’s passing, writing: “Nintendo Co., Ltd. deeply regrets to announce that President Satoru Iwata passed away on July 11, 2015 due to a bile duct growth.”
Satoru Iwata began his career as a game programmer at HAL Laboratory, working on a variety of video games, including the Kirby series, before becoming president of HAL in 1993 and bringing the company out of financial ruin. Iwata also helped with the development of Pokémon Gold and Silver for their 1999 release on Game Boy Color, despite not yet working for Nintendo.
Iwata began working at Nintendo in 2000 as the head of Nintendo’s corporate planning division and became president in 2002 after Hiroshi Yamauchi, Nintendo’s President from 1949 to 2002, retired and gave Iwata his blessing, making Iwata the first president of Nintendo to have no relation to the Yamauchi family.
An innovative businessman, Satoru Iwata is credited with turning Nintendo around in the 2000s by introducing the Nintendo DS and the Nintendo Wii, the revolutionary motion-based gaming system, revitalizing the company’s standing as a top force in the gaming world after the disappointing performance of the GameCube console.
Iwata also created Iwata Asks, a section on Nintendo’s website where Iwata would comment on games and deliver news directly to gamers.
In June 2013, Satoru Iwata became Nintendo of America’s CEO.
In October of 2014, Iwata underwent surgery to remove a tumor growing in his bile duct.