In what could be be described as sudden and profoundly saddening, Nintendo has announced that its current president, Satoru Iwata, has passed away. They explain in a very short message that his death was due to a bile duct growth. He had surgery to remove this growth last year, which concerned many since it meant that he would skip out on last year’s E3. Upon his return, it seemed like everything was fine and that the surgery was a success. That is until today when Nintendo told us the news. According to their “Notification of Death and Personnel Change of a Representative Director (President)” (PDF) document, Iwata had actually died last Saturday, July 11th, and waited until today to fully confirm the news and relay the message to the public.
Nikkei has reported that Hiroshi Yamauchi has passed away. Known for his no-nonsense style of business at Nintendo, he turned the company around from making just playing cards and other gambling games to creating videogames. He demanded perfection in the videogames his company made.
He was responsible for many of the gears that set in motion what made Nintendo a household name to this day. He brought on Gunpei Yokoi, who went on to create the Game & Watch and Game Boy line of handhelds. He tasked Minoru Arakawa, his son-in-law, to handle the North American branch of Nintendo and to sell arcade units in the region. When that didn’t work well, he looked to Shigeru Miyamoto, who made the arcade hit Donkey Kong. Come the NES days, he realized that artists are just as important to making games as technicians were. If a game was to be made on the NES, he got the final say on its appearance on the console. Many credit the NES, and the presence of Super Mario Bros. on the system, for saving the North Amercian videogame market after the Great Videogame Crash of 1983.