The chief executive of Nintendo, Satoru Iwata, has died aged 55 of cancer. In his fifteen years at the Japanese company, Iwata was credited with turning around its fortunes with both the Wii and DS consoles.
Indications of Satoru Iwata's ill health were evident last year when the Nintendo chief executive missed the E3 trade show in Los Angeles on the advice of his doctor. He also missed the company's Annual General Meeting.
In a brief statement, the Kyoto-based firm said Iwata passed away on Saturday: "Nintendo Co., Ltd. deeply regrets to announce that President Satoru Iwata passed away on July 11, 2015 due to a bile duct growth."
A talented computer programmer, Iwata joined Nintendo's HAL Laboratory in the 1980s to work on games such as Balloon Fight and EarthBound. He became a director in 2000 and succeeded Hiroshi Yamauchi as president of Nintendo in 2002. He was the fourth president of the company which had started in 1889 as a producer of handmade hanafuda playing cards.
Iwata was credited with turning around the fortunes of the Japanese video game company with both Wii and DS. He also had to deal with less succesful products including GameCube and Wii U.
Iwata had been the popular host of Nintendo Direct, the online home for the company's news, broadcast direct to the player.
Last year, Iwata said he would cut his salary in half for several months after a downturn at the maker of the Donkey Kong and Pokemon franchises. Nintendo has struggled as rivals Sony and Microsoft outpaced it in console sales.
Iwata had argued Nintendo should not compete with smartphone and tables and stay with game creations as its core business. But he later acknowledged Nintendo had to move into new areas: "The world is changing, so any company that is not coping with the change will fall into decline," he said.
Nintendo is the world's largest video game company by revenue. Its name in English means "leave luck to heaven."
Last March Nintendo announced plans to buy a stake in Tokyo-based mobile gaming company DeNA as part of a plan to develop smartphone games based on Nintendo's popular characters.
In May 2015, Universal Parks and Resorts announced a link with Nintendo to create attractions based on its characters.
jm/jr (AFP, EFE)