Game Industry Legend Satoru Iwata Leaves Nintendo’s Future Uncertain
Nintendo announced today that its beloved president, Satoru Iwata, passed away yesterday due to a rare form of cancer. Just 55, Iwata lead Nintendo from 2002 to 2015, presiding over its resurgence as a game industry leader since 2004. He is credited with the Nintendo DS in 2005 and the Nintendo Wii in 2006. Both systems went on to sell well over 100 million, and to date neither Sony’s PS3 nor Microsoft’s Xbox 360 ever managed to catch up to the Wii. The DS went on to become the second best selling game system of all time, right behind the PS2.
Iwata leaves behind a significant legacy. He was a well regarded programmer of Nintendo games in his early career, earning recognition and respect. Later, he became steward of Nintendo after its previous president, Hiroshi Yamauchi, retired. Iwata was well known for his determination to maintain Nintendo’s high level of quality in the games it produced. He focused on delivering fun and appealing software to a wide range of gamers. Nintendo’s most recent system, the Wii U, has struggled to gain traction. Nevertheless, Iwata’s leadership ensured that its Nintendo 3DS, successor to the long running DS, became a big success. In the three years since the 3DS launched, it has outsold its chief competitor, Sony’s Playstation Vita, by roughly 6 to 1.
In the absence of Iwata, Nintendo’s future is unclear. Who will step into the vacant leadership role? How will plans for the mysterious “Nintendo NX” proceed under new leadership? Only time will tell, but for now it seems enough to say this: Satoru Iwata, no matter what else one might feel about some of his choices, was a beloved industry figure who brought countless hours of fun to millions of gamers. His commitment to quality, fun and innovation was a benefit to all. He’ll be sorely missed, and the entire games industry is poorer today for his loss.