This morning was meant to be like any other morning. Unfortunately that was not the case, for I was greeted with the truly saddening news that Satoru Iwata had passed away during the weekend as a result of the cancer he had been battling, at the age of just 55.
Whilst he had undergone surgery and had returned to active duties as President of Nintendo, he was still unable to attend events abroad, such as the recent E3 in Los Angeles, and appeared visibly thinner.
Nonetheless it was great to still see him as an active presence at Nintendo, especially in the recent puppet themed Nintendo Digital Event, in which he maintained his humorous self-awareness, such as once again appearing with a bunch of banana’s in a throwback to Nintendo Direct from a couple of years ago.
Iwata increasingly came across as a rare breed of Videogame president, instead of merely a businessman trying to maximise profits to satisfy investors. Iwata was a gamer at heart, and a programmer who had worked his way up to being only the fourth President of Nintendo in its century long existence and the first outside of the founding Yamauchi family. Although Iwata himself explained his position best:
‘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.’
Iwata truly understood what was involved in game development, and for him (like Nintendo as a whole) making the best game they could was what mattered. To him this was being financially responsible, as if a game was bad, people wouldn’t buy it. Iwata’s Presidency at Nintendo has been one of high’s and low’s. Coming in just after the release of the underrated (but by no means a failure) GameCube, he went on to help Nintendo think differently with the Blue Ocean strategy. This saw the release of the Nintendo DS and Wii which despite being technologically inferior to its competitors managed to dramatically surpass them in sales. During the initial struggle’s of the 3DS Iwata took a pay cut and refused to let go of any staff, stating that it would alter the environment in a way that would damage development. Plus the move separated him actions made by other CEO’s in similar situations.
Iwata’s passing will be dearly felt by all of Nintendo’s supporters, no longer will we be able to see him in a humorous Nintendo Direct announcing a new exciting game, or even asking us to ‘Please Understand’ when something has had to be delayed in order to make it even better.
Satoru Iwata deeply cared about videogames, he wanted as many people to enjoy them and share in that joy, and for that he will be missed. But he leaves behind a legacy that anyone would wish for.