- "[Iwata] has the instincts you need to survive in this business."
- — Hiroshi Yamauchi
Satoru Iwata (岩田 聡 Iwata Satoru?, born December 6, 1959 and died July 11, 2015) was the fourth president and CEO of Nintendo until his death in 2015. Satoru Iwata was responsible in great part for defining Nintendo's strategy both before and during the release of the Nintendo GameCube in 2001, a vision which helped Nintendo generate a forty-one percent increase in sales at the end of the 2002 fiscal year.
Satoru Iwata was born in Sapporo, Japan. He expressed his interest in the creation of video games early on, and originating in an environment with a tradition of computer programming, he produced electronic games at his home during his high school years. The several simple number games Iwata produced, which made use of an electronic calculator, he shared with his schoolmates.
Following high school, Iwata was admitted at the prestigious Tokyo Institute of Technology, where he majored in computer science. Such an environment allowed Iwata's technical expertise and passion for video games to be recognized and as such, he was hired as a part-time games programmer at HAL Laboratory, Inc., a subsidiary of Nintendo, while still pursuing his tertiary studies until graduation.
In 1982, after succeeding at college, Iwata was recruited by HAL Laboratory, Inc. for a full-time position. He became the company's coordinator of software production in 1983. Some of the video games he helped create while he worked there were EarthBound and various games in the Kirby series. Iwata was eventually promoted to president of HAL in 1993. Nevertheless, he and his branch sometimes aided in the creation of Nintendo video games, himself on a freelance basis.
In 2000, Iwata took a position at Nintendo as the head of its corporate planning division. When Hiroshi Yamauchi, the company's president since 1949, retired on May 31, 2002, Iwata succeeded as Nintendo's fourth president and the first unrelated to the Yamauchi family through blood or marriage. He continued to help out at HAL as a correspondent. It is said that Iwata still worked as an artist there, assisting in creating concept art of Kirby characters for use in the Kirby series of video games. His latest project was the Wii. He commented on the Wii in his section of Nintendo's Wii website, Iwata Asks. Iwata has also worked on the Legend of Zelda, Mario and Animal Crossing series.
Iwata died due to a tumor in his bile duct on July 11, 2015. His position as president of Nintendo was succeeded by Tatsumi Kimishima.
Game Developers Conference
At the 2006 Game Developers Conference, Iwata provided the keynote address, where he focused on "disrupting development" and Brain Age: Train Your Brain in Minutes a Day!. He also revealed The Legend of Zelda: Phantom Hourglass, putting an end to rumours about a Zelda DS title.
It was announced in late 2008 that Iwata would be providing the keynote address at the 2009 Game Developers Conference on March 25, 2009, resulting in rumors that he will finally reveal Zelda Wii or give more info on the game. However, when he gave the keynote address, he gave no details on Zelda Wii but instead announced a new Zelda game for the Nintendo DS titled The Legend of Zelda: Spirit Tracks.
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