Satoru Iwata

Satoru Iwata
岩田 聡
Satoru Iwata presenting at the Game Developers Conference in 2011
4th President and CEO of Nintendo
In office
May 24, 2002 – July 11, 2015
Preceded byHiroshi Yamauchi
Succeeded byTatsumi Kimishima
Personal details
Born(1959-12-06)December 6, 1959
Sapporo, Japan
DiedJuly 11, 2015(2015-07-11) (aged 55)
Kyoto University Hospital, Kyoto, Japan
Cause of deathComplications from bile duct growth
NationalityJapanese
Spouse(s)Kayoko Iwata
(m. ?–2015; his death)[1]
Alma materTokyo Institute of Technology

Satoru Iwata (Japanese: 岩田 聡, Hepburn: Iwata Satoru, December 6, 1959 – July 11, 2015) was a Japanese video game programmer and businessman who was the fourth president and chief executive officer (CEO) of Nintendo. He is widely regarded as instrumental in broadening the appeal of video games to a wider audience by focusing on novel and entertaining games rather than top-of-the-line hardware.

Born in Sapporo, Japan, Iwata expressed interest in video games from an early age and created his first simple game while in high school. He majored in computer science at the Tokyo Institute of Technology. In 1980, he joined the game developer HAL Laboratory while attending the university. During his early years at HAL Laboratory he worked as a programmer and closely collaborated with Nintendo, producing his first commercial game in 1983. Notable titles to which he contributed at HAL include EarthBound and the Kirby series. Following a downturn and near-bankruptcy, Iwata became the president of HAL Laboratory in 1993 at the insistence of Nintendo President Hiroshi Yamauchi and brought financial stability to the company. In the following years, he assisted in the development of the Pokémon and Super Smash Bros. series. Iwata joined Nintendo as the head of its corporate-planning division in 2000.

Nintendo soon saw notable growth with Iwata's assistance and, when Yamauchi retired, he became the company's president in May 2002. Under Iwata's direction, Nintendo developed the Nintendo DS and Wii video game consoles, helping the company achieve financial success. As a self-declared gamer, he focused on expanding the appeal of video games across all demographics through a "blue ocean" business strategy. The company attained record profits by 2009, and Barron's placed Iwata among the top 30 CEOs worldwide. Iwata subsequently expanded his blue ocean strategy by defining a quality of life product line for the Wii that later evolved into a ten-year business strategy to create stand-alone products. Later hardware such as the Nintendo 3DS and Wii U proved far less profitable than the Wii, and Nintendo's net sales fell by two thirds from 2009 to 2012; the company saw its first operating losses in 30 years during this time. Iwata voluntarily halved his salary in 2011 and 2014. In 2015, after several years of refusal, Iwata put a portion of Nintendo's focus into the rapidly growing mobile game market; a landmark partnership with mobile provider DeNA was established that March. Throughout his career, Iwata built a strong relationship with Nintendo fans through social media and his regular appearances in Iwata Asks and Nintendo Direct, becoming the public face of the company.

In June 2014, a tumor in Iwata's bile duct was discovered during a routine physical exam. It was removed, and Iwata returned to work in October of that year. The problem resurfaced in 2015, and Iwata died at the age of 55 from its complications on July 11. Members of the gaming industry and fans alike offered tributes through public announcements and social media, and fans worldwide established temporary memorials. Iwata was posthumously awarded the Lifetime Achievement Award at the 2015 Golden Joystick Awards and the 2016 DICE Awards.

Early life

A Commodore PET 2001 model personal computer
A Commodore PET 2001, the same model series Iwata purchased in 1978 and subsequently dismantled.

Satoru Iwata was born on December 6, 1959, and raised in Sapporo, Japan, where his father served as a prefectural official.[2][3] Throughout middle and high school, Iwata displayed leadership skills through service as class president, student council president, and club president at various times.[3] His first experience with computers was in middle school with a demo computer that used telephone lines. Iwata would frequent the Sapporo subway and play a simple numeric game, called Game 31, until he mastered it.[4] With money saved up from a dish-washing job and some additional allowance from his father, Iwata purchased an HP-65, the first programmable calculator, in 1974. After entering Hokkaido Sapporo South High School in April 1975, he began developing his own games during his junior year.[5] The several simple number games Iwata produced, such as Volleyball and Missile Attack, made use of an electronic calculator he shared with his schoolmates.[5][6]

Iwata obtained his first computer, a Commodore PET, in 1978.[5] He dismantled and studied the machine out of his desire to understand it. The computer coincidentally had a central processing unit (MOS 6502) similar to the one used by Nintendo for the Nintendo Entertainment System (NES), a gaming console for which he would later develop games.[7][8] Following high school, Iwata was admitted to the Tokyo Institute of Technology in April 1978, where he majored in computer science.[5][6][9] Tomohiko Uematsu, an engineering professor, noted Iwata's proficiency with software programming and remarked that Iwata could write programs faster and more accurately than any of his other students.[10]

While attending the school, he was one of several unpaid interns at Commodore Japan, assisting the subsidiary's head engineer—Yash Terakura[8]—with technical and software-development tasks.[11] One of his main reasons for taking the job was to spend more time around computers and learn of details not openly available to the public.[8][12] Terakura would later serve as a mentor to Iwata, teaching him about hardware engineering to supplement Iwata's already extensive software knowledge.[8] Iwata and several of his friends rented an apartment in Akihabara and soon formed a club where they would create and code games.[13] Classmates living in nearby apartments referred to Iwata's room as "Game Center Iwata".[nb 1][10] He would frequently show off his games to the Seibu department store's computer department, and by 1980 a group of employees there invited him to join their company, HAL Laboratory, Inc.[13][14][15]

Other Languages
Alemannisch: Satoru Iwata
العربية: ساتورو إواتا
Bân-lâm-gú: Iwata Satoru
català: Satoru Iwata
čeština: Satoru Iwata
Deutsch: Satoru Iwata
español: Satoru Iwata
Esperanto: Satoru Iwata
euskara: Satoru Iwata
français: Satoru Iwata
galego: Satoru Iwata
Bahasa Indonesia: Satoru Iwata
italiano: Satoru Iwata
Lëtzebuergesch: Satoru Iwata
Nederlands: Satoru Iwata
日本語: 岩田聡
polski: Satoru Iwata
português: Satoru Iwata
русский: Ивата, Сатору
Simple English: Satoru Iwata
svenska: Satoru Iwata
Tagalog: Satoru Iwata
Türkçe: Satoru Iwata
українська: Сатору Івата
Tiếng Việt: Iwata Satoru
粵語: 岩田聰
中文: 岩田聰