The gaming world lost one of it’s great innovators this past weekend. Satoru Iwata passed away due to complications from Bile Duct cancer. Following his graduation from Tokyo University, Iwata worked with frequent Nintendo developer HAL Laboratories, where he developed games such as Kirby, Balloon Fight, and Mother (a.k.a Earthbound). In the early 90s, he became president of the company, helping turn its fortunes around, and contributed to Pokemon Gold/Silver, the start of another classic Nintendo franchise. In 2002, he became the fourth president of Nintendo, and the first not to be related by either blood or marriage to the Yamauchi family. Taking over Nintendo, Satoru began an initiative to make gaming more appealing to all different audiences. To that end, Satoru was the catalyst behind the development of the Nintendo DS and Wii, along with their successors the Wii U and 3DS, all of whom provided Nintendo fans with unique styles of gaming that were unseen on either of their competitors’ consoles. He also improved communications with fans as well, creating the Nintendo Direct conferences, a series of online presentations aimed at introducing new software and hardware to the public outside of regular channels. In 2013, Iwata took over as head of Nintendo of America. Under his direction, the company nixed large E3 presentations in favor of the smaller Nintendo Directs, such as last month’s puppet show. Earlier this year, Iwata cut a deal with mobile developer DeNA to bring its properties to the mobile market.
Ever since it entered the console gaming market in the early 80s, Nintendo has been an innovator in the industry. It was thanks to the efforts of great men like Shigeru Miyamoto, The late Gunpei Yokoi, Reggie Fils-aime, and Takashi Tezuka that the company continues to be innovative. Satoru Iwata is another one of these innovators, and he helped pushed the company above and beyond what it was. The impact of his loss will no doubt be felt throughout the gaming industry.