Longtime Nintendo CEO Satoru Iwata Passes Away At Age 55

The games industry lost a giant this weekend as Nintendo issued a statement saying its fourth president and Chief Executive Officer Satoru Iwata passed away on Saturday. He was only 55 years old at the time of his death. According to Nintendo, Iwata's passing was "due to a bile duct growth," for which he underwent surgery a year ago.

In June of last year, Iwata issued a letter to shareholders stating that "an issue was detected" during a "routine physical examination." The issue turned out to be a growth in his bile duct, though because it was detected and operated on at an early stage, there was optimism for a full recovery. Nevertheless, his physical appearance was cause for concern, to which he addressed via Twitter a few months post-surgery.

Satoru Iwata

"I saw many worried comments over how thin I've become. The truth is that after a major operation, I lost weight, but during these past two and a half months, thankfully my weight has stabilized, and I'm progressing well," Iwata said. "I would truly like to thank my doctors, the hospital staff, and everyone who has assisted me."

Iwata was born and raised in Sapporo, Japan. Early in his career, he served as HAL Laboratory's coordinator of software production where he helped create Balloon Flight, EarthBound, and the Kirby series. In 1993, he became the company's president.

Seven years later, Iwata jointed Nintendo as boss of its corporate planning division. After just two years on the job, he succeeded Hiroshi Yamauchi as Nintendo's president on May 31, 2002.