Satoru Iwata dies at age 55 of bile duct growth, but remains very much alive in our hearts.

It is rare that the president of a wealthy corporation passes away and a community reaches out to show their support. Many companies are blindly focused on profit margins and bottom lines, shirking the responsibility to their audience. But Nintendo is no ordinary public company and Satoru Iwata was no ordinary CEO.

Satoru Iwata was a man of integrity. He stood in the front lines through Nintendo’s best and worst times and ALWAYS focused on providing quality game experiences for the whole family.

Satoru Iwata’s History

Satoru Iwata started life as a dedicated game developer. Even as a child, Satoru Iwata was making “electronic games”.

He started working at HAL Laboratories while attending college and is partly responsible for the development of Nintendo classics like Ballon Fight, Kirby and Earthbound (the company would later go on to make Super Smash Bros.).

Doing things the old fashioned way, Satoru Iwata worked his way up to become President of the company after ten years of hard work.

After his run at Hal, Iwata moved to Nintendo Corporate and was eventually promoted to President and then CEO. He continued to support and assist with internal game development. His connection to the products he loved was clear.

Why Satoru Iwata was awesome

Satoru Iwata was a rare breed of CEO who had thirty years of experience at a company he loved prior to leading it.

You could see his passion in everything he did. His Nintendo Direct appearances — whether it be dressed as Mario, dancing around as a Jim Henson-esque puppet, or modeled in clay — were loads of fun. You could see how genuinely happy he was to see people happy.

Most importantly, Iwata was honest. He didn’t lie to shareholders or to himself. With the exception of Amiibo sales, Nintendo has been going through a rough patch lately, and Iwata told it like it was. He even accepted a major 50% pay cut because he didn’t feel that he was living up to his name and the company pedigree (which is absolutely ridiculous, by the way).

On my business card, I am a corporate president.

In my mind, I am a game developer.

But in my heart, I am a gamer.

Satoru Iwata (GDC 2005)

Like colleague Shigeru Miyamoto, who works on a salary relatively lower than others in the field, Iwata wasn’t in game development for the money. He wanted to see people happy and he wanted to make products that brought smiles to the faces of children and their parents.

Satoru Iwata official Nintendo statement


R.I.P. Satoru Iwata. You were a bright spark in a dark corporate world.

What were your favorite Iwata moments?