All candles lit in memory of Satoru Iwata
Satoru Iwata (December 6, 1959 - July 11, 2015) was a Japanese video game programmer and businessman who served as the fourth president and chief executive officer (CEO) of Nintendo. He is widely regarded as a major contributor in broadening the appeal of video games to a wider audience by focusing on novel and entertaining games rather than top-of-the-line hardware.
Born in Sapporo, Japan, Iwata expressed interest in video games from an early age and created his first simple game while in high school. He later majored in computer science at the Tokyo Institute of Technology. In 1980, he joined the game developer HAL Laboratory while attending the university. During his early years at HAL Laboratory he worked as a programmer and closely collaborated with Nintendo, producing his first commercial game in 1983. Notable titles to which he contributed at HAL include EarthBound and the Kirby series. Following a downturn and near-bankruptcy, Iwata became the president of HAL Laboratory in 1993 at the insistence of Nintendo President Hiroshi Yamauchi and brought financial stability to the company. In the following years, he assisted in the development of the Pokémon and Super Smash Bros. series. Iwata joined Nintendo as the head of its corporate-planning division in 2000.
Nintendo soon saw notable growth with Iwata's assistance and, as a result, he succeeded Yamauchi as the company's president in May 2002. Under Iwata's direction, Nintendo developed the Nintendo DS and Wii video game consoles, helping the company to achieve financial success in the industry. As a self-declared gamer, he focused on expanding the appeal of video games across all demographics through a "blue ocean" business strategy. The company attained record profits by 2009, and Barron's placed Iwata among the top 30 CEOs worldwide. Iwata subsequently expanded his blue ocean strategy by defining a quality of life product line for the Wii that later evolved into a ten-year business strategy to create stand-alone products. Later hardware releases like the Nintendo 3DS and Wii U proved far less profitable than the Wii, and Nintendo's net sales fell by two-thirds from 2009 to 2012.
In June 2014, a tumor in his bile duct was discovered during a routine physical exam. It was removed, and Iwata returned to work in October of that year. The issue resurfaced in 2015, and Iwata died at the age of 55 from its complications on July 11. Members of the gaming industry and fans alike expressed their despair over his death through public announcements and social media, and fans worldwide established temporary memorials. Iwata was posthumously granted the Lifetime Achievement Award at both the 2015 Golden Joystick Awards and the 2016 DICE Awards.
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