Nintendo CEO Dies After Cancer Battle, Netizens Mourn Loss


By far the most popular news of the day has been the news that Nintendo CEO, Iwata Satoru, had died suddenly due to a bile-duct tumor.

Iwata, who is credited with reviving Nintendo, oversaw the development of hit consoles such as the Nintendo DS and the Nintendo Wii, and was generally a popular choice to lead the company.

Netizens from all corners of the web mourn his death.

From mixi News:

Nintendo CEO Iwata Dies Aged 55, Expanded Gaming Population With Nintendo Wii

[Tokyo July 13, Reuters] On July 13, Nintendo announced that at 4:47am on July 11, Nintendo CEO Iwata Satoru died at a hospital in Kyoto due to a bile duct tumor. He was 55 years old. According to Nintendo, Iwata had been taken into hospital several days earlier when his condition deteriorated, while there he took a sudden turn for the worse and passed away.

In June last year Iwata took time off to recover after undergoing surgery to remove a tumor on his bile duct, but by August he had recommenced his duties at Nintendo, emphasizing his recovery by appearing in public in October that year after a four-month absence. Although he had missed the shareholder’s AGM in June last year, this year he was in attendance on June 26, taking the role of chairman, and it had just been decided that he would continue in his role as CEO.

Following Mr. Iwata’s death, Nintendo announced that managing directors Miyamoto Shigeru and Takeda Genyo will share the role of representative director. It has not yet been decided who will be the company’s next CEO.

Iwata joined Nintendo in 2000 after being invited by then CEO Yamauchi Hiroshi, and in May 2002, at the young age of 42, he became CEO. He implemented the mobile gaming unit “DS” and “Wii” gaming console which were huge hits for the company, and did not just stop at traditional gaming fans, but also set out to “expand the gaming population” to include women and adults, thereby expanding the strata of people who enjoy playing computer games.

However he faced difficult campaigns over later models the “3DS” and “WiiU”, and by March 2014 Nintendo posted three consecutive years of running losses. Finally, in March 2015 Nintendo had once again started to be profitable, with Iwata declaring a plan that by “March 2017 we will be aiming to reach a level of profit befitting of Nintendo”.

Iwata, who was always loyal to “Nintendo-ness”, had initially shown a cautious stance toward participating in smartphone games but had a reversal in March this year when he announced a plan to co-develop a smartphone game within the year with mobile gaming company DeNA.

Furthermore, Iwata had also revealed that Nintendo would be involved in a theme park enterprise with US company Universal Studios. Iwata had also shown his desire to develop new enterprises, such as a plan to participate from 2015 in a health project, and had scheduled the public announcement on the new generation console the “NX” for next year.

Iwata began his career as a “genius programmer” since his days at the Tokyo Institute of Technology, and had worked as the CEO of the HAL Research Lab, which developed software for Nintendo. Iwata, with his unique career, was named as a Nintendo CEO despite the company being managed by the same family since it was founded in 1889, and was loved by gaming fans. He left us with the following words of wisdom: “Yes, I have CEO on my business card, but in my mind I’m a game developer. And in my heart, I’m a gamer”.

* Headline has been corrected.

(By Murai Reiji; editor: Yamagawa Kaoru)

Comments from

This is a story from 30 years ago now, but I’ll never forget the feeling of thanks when I sent them a game cassette that I’d trampled on and broken and they sent me a new one in return.

I want to offer up a 1up mushroom to you…

The game EarthBound that this man programmed is still the best game for me. I offer my condolences.

I really think that he was an incomparable talent, but I guess Nintendo be OK? It seems like depending on who comes after him, the company could do amazing things…

Wii, DS…and what’s more, hanafuda. Thank you for everything, Iwata. May you rest in peace. Even now, I have CEO Iwata’s special Mii inside my 3DS…I’ll have to take good care of it.

Those games I was obsessed with as a child. And as an adult, whenever I look at the credits on those games, there was the name “SATORU IWATA”. Regardless of age, gender, or or nationality, you gave people of all descriptions dreams, surprises, and joy. You moved us. Thank you.

From Yahoo! Japan:


He was too young. He was just getting started.


Ah, he was still young.
May he rest in peace. Still, this will be a serious blow to Nintendo.


He was still so young…
May he rest in peace.


The power of his words on Nintendo Direct, and then gentle manner which really didn’t make him seem like a CEO, he really was a splendid man.
I offer my condolences.


Now that I think about it, the way he was getting thinner in the Nintendo Direct videos wasn’t normal.
He must have been risking his life doing it.
Thank you so much for all your hard work, Iwata.


I bet that even former CEO Yamauchi himself didn’t imagine that the successor he chose would be following him only two years later…may he rest in peace.


We can’t know how this will affect Nintendo.


I think he was a truly talented man, I loved that on Direct and as CEO he listened to us. The fact that he loved games himself and conveyed that to us had a great impression on me. His death is such a pity.

Comments from


So he had cancer, huh?


Is this for real?
It’s real.


There is no one who can come after him w


Hey, what is Nintendo going to do now?


But he was so full of life.
I just don’t get it.


Nothing for it but to pray he rests in peace.


In a video from a short while back he looked really thin, so I was wondering if something was up.


He was still so young.


He’ll live on forever inside my 3DS.


This was all too sudden.


It must have been the cancer that made him lose so much weight.


Last year vs. this year


I just thought he was getting thin because of psychological exhaustion.


This is sad.

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  • His last year vs. this year photo is very telling. RIP.

    I hope he wins all the go-kart races in Nintendo heaven.

  • Dan

    At least he went out knowing he’s done a lot for this world. Rest in peace.

  • guest

    It really is quite the loss, he contributed so much. Also, it’s Satoru, not Satoshi, as was posted in the first sentence.

    • besudesu

      Yes it really is a loss.

      Thanks for pointing out the error in the first sentence! I also realized that the first paragraph was not appearing at all, so thanks for prompting me to go back and check…

      • guest

        No problem at all, it happens, I’m just glad you guys still put out intresting content on a regular basis, especially since it’s all volunteer work.

        • OXY

          They get money through advertisements, right?

          • besudesu

            You’ve never run a blog, have you?

  • someone

    Credited with reviving Nintendo? Bullshit. Nintendo has always been financially secure. It’s well known that Nintendo made more profit off of Gamecube sales than Sony did off PS2. And even while they were losing the console wars, they had the handheld market all to themselves. Wii U is their first true failure, and even then they have 3DS to fall back on.

    Don’t let internet fanboys trick you into thinking Nintendo was at any point ‘doomed’.

    • A Gawd Dang Mongolian

      No, this is less a ‘doomed’ revival as it was a ‘dull’ revival. He coordinated the creation of the Kirby series, and Earthbound, and had some direct contributions to making pokemon in its earliest games.

      Don’t bring your console war crap here. Just honor a guy that was really dedicated to making games.

    • weiner

      It’s actually good that someone points this out. In western media they always paint nintendo as “doomed” when in reality they’ve been better off than the rest and only tripped during the launch of the WiiU, recovering really fast. It’s not “console war” it’s calling the media out on how bad they’ve been reporting nintendo stuff.
      RIP Iwata.

    • NintendoD.Boss

      You know, it’s quite pathetic of Crapbox fans to use Iwata’s death as a cheap shot at Sony. That you are thinking of the console wars and profits while the rest of us are mourning his loss speaks volumes about you.
      Low life.

  • Radical Truth

    I was never fan of Nintendo. But RIP.

    • JEng

      those handheld games were pacifiers for Asian kids – they cost very litle money pre gameboy.

      • jin

        Pokemon were and is still pacifiers for many western kids.

        • JEng

          wow those cartoon network imports are incomprehensible to me – I would just play some old school Bugs Bunny for kiddies. Is peer pressure that terrible that a kid would be left out if he didn’t know about Pokemon?

          I think you can see a profound cultural gap in these opposing creations. Bugs Bunny et al. were hand drawn with a lot of creativity and depth. Later, Batman Animated was absolutely wonderful and not toxic.

          After catching a video game review on youtube once many years ago, I decided to never gift a Japanese video game especially one unedited for the American consumers. South Park may mock Pokemon by claiming it teaches kids to hate America and bomb Pearl Harbor again but what I saw was more insidious and yes basically leads you to be that petty and vindictive as to harbor resentment towards others who expose your achilles heel and defeat you.

          Mark Felton has a very important chapter in Coolie Generals which is definitely self restrained – he explains what Japan felt was justification for going to war – that they had played the white man’s game and pretended to be the perfect gentleman and humanitarian and STILL wasn’t accepted into the club of Apex Predators i.e. white colonialism.

          • jin

            Are you on drugs or trolling?

          • JEng

            I’m not sure how sub rosa unwholesome Pokemon is but there is plenty to pass through the Chinese censors that may not be overtly pornographic or war-excusing BUT does teach a twisted immorality disguised as justified self pity. How Japan teaches its children is opposite to how Chinese teach their children.

            And I’m not on lamictal or any other prescription medication so no one can accuse me of being under the influence or suicidal.

          • jin

            Yeah and I’m feeding the troll, well have to feed the fishes in the pond once in a while.

  • risotto

    So sad. Thank you, Mr. Iwata. RIP. =(

  • JEng

    was the bile duct cancer caused by liver fluke from eating raw fish?

  • redgirls

    “Yes, I have CEO on my business card, but in my mind I’m a game developer. And in my heart, I’m a gamer”. says it all. 55 years old, so young, so sad..

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