Nintendo President Satoru Iwata has died aged 55. The gaming giant issued a short statement on Sunday night announcing that the Mario boss had passed, due to a persistent health problem.
The statement reads:
Nintendo Co., Ltd. deeply regrets to announce that President Satoru Iwata passed away on July 11, 2015 due to a bile duct growth.
Iwata was forced to miss last year’s E3 due to his ailing health, and underwent surgery soon after to remove the bile duct problem. This had seemingly gone well, with the Nintendo president a few months later answering concerns over his health via Twitter, stating, “I’m progressing well”. This seemingly did not prove true.
Beginning his gaming career as a skilled programmer, Iwata first joined Nintendo’s HAL Laboratory in the 1980s, where he worked on games like Balloon Fight and EarthBound. Iwata rose to become Director of the company fifteen years ago, and in 2002 succeeded Hiroshi Yamauchi as only the fourth President in Nintendo's history.
Iwata's time at the helm was a mixed bag for the company. While the Wii and DS have been unparalleled successes for Nintendo, he also oversaw some of its weakest periods, such as the GameCube launch and its current struggle with the Wii U). Looking to take direct control of the company's image in the wake of criticism, Iwata would become a customer-facing leader of the company as the host of the Nintendo Direct programs.
Rest in Peace, Mr. Iwata.