Nintendo has confirmed in the past hour that CEO Satoru Iwata suddenly passed away on Saturday July 11th due to a bile duct growth that the executive had been attempting to manage over the past two years, which was recently confirmed to be a tumor.
Born in 1959, Iwata joined Nintendo second-party developer HAL Laboratory in 1983 and moved up the ranks of the company, creating hits such as Pokemon Stadium for the Nintendo 64 and working on other Nintendo franchises before becoming the first executive unrelated to the Yamauchi clan that founded the company to run the company beginning in the year 2000.
During his tenure as president, Iwata oversaw the shift away from the cartridge-based games that the company was famous for into optical media, first with the Gamecube then the Wii and finally the Wii U. While overseeing that shift, he also shifted the company's focus on portable gaming from the Game Boy line to the Nintendo DS line, which is still going strong with the New Nintendo 3DS.
Still, many fans will remember him best for the online video series #IwataAsks, a series of 1-on-1 interviews with fellow Nintendo developers and employees that shed light on the development process for many of Nintendo's storied franchises and pulled back the curtain on the secretive company. He will be succeeded by co-directors Genyo Takeda and Shigeru Miyamoto with no immediate word on whether a permanent replacement will be appointed.
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