Satoru Iwata

Satoru Iwata

CEO of Nintendo
Date of Birth: 06.12.1959
Country: Japan

Satoru Iwata: The Gamer President of Nintendo

Satoru Iwata, the former president of Nintendo, was born on December 6, 1959, in Sapporo, Japan. Growing up in Sapporo, he developed a passion for creating video games at a young age. As a schoolboy, he started producing simple video games at home.

Satoru Iwata

Iwata began his career in the gaming industry through an unpaid internship at Commodore Japan, where he assisted the chief engineer in solving technical issues and developing software. He then worked as a freelance employee at HAL Laboratory, a company that often collaborated with Nintendo.

Satoru Iwata

Later, Iwata enrolled at Tokyo Institute of Technology, majoring in computer science. After graduating, he secured a permanent position at HAL Laboratory in 1983 and became a coordinator for software production. During this time, he contributed to the development of games such as "Balloon Fight," "EarthBound," and "Kirby."

Satoru Iwata

When HAL Laboratory faced financial troubles, Iwata was appointed as its president. Under his leadership, the company recovered and became financially stable. He also played a role in the establishment of Creatures Inc., a subsidiary of Nintendo, and contributed to the development of "Pokémon Gold and Silver" for Game Boy Color and "Pokémon Stadium" for Nintendo 64.

Satoru Iwata

In 2000, Iwata joined Nintendo as the head of corporate planning. After Hiroshi Yamauchi, the third president of Nintendo, retired on May 31, 2002, Iwata was appointed as the new president with Yamauchi's blessing. He became the first president of Nintendo not related to the Yamauchi family.

During his tenure, Iwata oversaw the transition from Game Boy to Nintendo DS, a new generation of handheld gaming consoles with unique features. He also influenced the development of Wii, a seventh-generation console with wireless controllers. Both innovations were highly successful, and Nintendo's stock price doubled after the launch of Wii in 2006.

With his background in programming, Iwata stood out from other technical executives, allowing him to lead Nintendo at a higher level. His success as a programmer and businessman earned him a place on Barron's list of the "30 Top CEOs Worldwide" from 2007 to 2009.

However, subsequent releases such as Nintendo 3DS and Wii U were not as popular as their predecessors. In 2009, Nintendo faced financial difficulties, and Iwata voluntarily halved his salary to help the company overcome the challenges and remain competitive.

In 2015, Nintendo shifted its focus to the growing mobile gaming market and formed a partnership with mobile carrier DeNA. Traditional console sales declined, and Iwata actively engaged with fans through social media to improve the company's relationship with its audience. He shared his thoughts on games in his section on the "Iwata Asks" website. In 2011, he organized Nintendo Direct, a series of online press conferences that introduced new Nintendo products in a quirky and humorous manner.

Unfortunately, Iwata's health issues prevented him from attending E3 2014, and it was later revealed that he underwent surgery to remove a tumor in his bile duct. On July 11, 2015, Nintendo announced the passing of Satoru Iwata at the age of 55 due to complications from his illness. He is survived by his wife, Kayoko.

The flags at Nintendo headquarters were lowered, and representatives from the gaming industry and Nintendo fans around the world expressed their sadness through social media, paying tribute to Iwata's significant contributions to the gaming industry.

Shuhei Yoshida, the president of SCE Worldwide Studios, said, "Satoru Iwata made a great contribution to the development of the gaming industry. I will pray for his soul."

Junichi Masuda, a game composer and designer known for his work on the Pokémon series, tweeted, "Satoru Iwata understood Pokémon and was a great leader. I visited him the day before, and he looked healthy. I will pray for his soul with all my heart."

Nintendo of America and Nintendo of Europe declared July 13 as a "day of silence" in memory of Iwata. On that day, both companies refrained from posting on social media. A day after Iwata's passing, a rainbow appeared over Nintendo's headquarters in Kyoto, which was aptly named the "Rainbow Road to heaven," referencing the track from the game Mario Kart.