“On my business card, I am a corporate president.
In my mind, I am a game developer. But in my heart, I am a gamer.”
Satoru Iwata, 1959-2015
I have this love/hate thing for Nintendo. I admire the fact that the Japanese based company not only revived the gaming industry from depths of obscurity courtesy of Atari and those God damn E.T. games, but mostly for their amazing innovations when it came to hardware.
And yeah, they have had their share of questionable business decisions, but at the end of the day, when one thinks of video games, Nintendo often comes to mind. Its innovations such as the rumble pack, Wiimote, and touchscreen are what helped Nintendo remain very relevant in a competitive gaming console market.
So when I have learned of Iwata’s passing, I was immediately reminded of many of his brilliant contributions toward Nintendo. For those of you who have no idea who I am referring to, here’s the 411:
Iwata was a Japanese game programmer and businessman who served as the fourth president and chief executive officer (CEO) of Nintendo. Early in his career he worked as a programmer at HAL Laboratory, helping to develop games in the Super Smash Bros., Kirby, and Pokémon series, eventually becoming president of the company in 1993 before joining Nintendo as head of corporate planning in 2000. He succeeded Hiroshi Yamauchi as the company’s president in May 2002. Iwata directed the company to pursue development of the Nintendo DS and Wii consoles in 2004 and 2006, respectively, helping the company to become financially successful in the field.
Under Iwata’s stewardship, the handheld gaming system had been revitalized thanks to the Nintendo DS which utilized a touch screen and along with the success of their handheld system came perhaps the company’s biggest seller since the Gameboy and SNES. The Wii brought gaming to new heights thanks to motion controls that became a fun interactive experience for many gamers.
I remember buying my first Wii console just to play Tatsunoko vs Capcom and spent many hours toying with the unconventional game controller.
And had it not been for the Nintendo 3DS, I would have suffered even more during the 2012 Blackout caused by Hurricane Sandy. That little sucker held on as long as it could with what little battery power it had. And I owe it all to Iwata-san.
Subsequent hardware units under Iwata’s tenure, including the Nintendo 3DS and Wii U, were unfortunately not as successful as its predecessors, DS and Wii. As a result, Nintendo’s finances took a downward turn in 2009. Iwata voluntarily cut his salary in half to help Nintendo’s poor finances and to better compete against Microsoft and Sony Computer Entertainment. That can’t be said of most CEOs. Prior to Iwata’s death, he had laid out plans to dive into mobile gaming and launch a new console, the NX.
Had it not been for the big N’s ideas, there would less likely be a Sony Dual Shock controller nor an Xbox Kinect (Not that anyone really uses Microsoft’s motion control apparatus but you get what I’m saying). Gamers, console developers and programmers from all over the world owe Iwata-san a debt of gratitude. You may be gone from this world but whenever a Nintendo or any other recent console device is booted, his legacy shall live on and on.