Nintendo President and CEO Satoru Iwata died at age 55 after a battle with cancer, the company announced Sunday.
Iwata was a well-loved figure in the video game community who had a huge impact on Nintendo during his tenure as president, which started in 2002. During his time at the helm of the company, Nintendo saw the launch of its handheld Nintendo DS system and the Nintendo Wii home console—both incredibly successful pieces of hardware that tapped into the more casual market of gamers, and which reinvigorated the company.
It’s likely a big part of that success was owed to Iwata’s early career as a programmer at Nintendo subsidiary HAL Laboratories in the 1980s, where he helped work on games such as Kirby’s Dreamland and Earthbound. He often spoke about how he was a gamer at heart, and his experience as a game developer informed his decisions as head of the company. Most recently, he opted to take Nintendo into the mobile market to do battle with the smartphone games that had been cutting into its handheld business, a move Nintendo expects will double its profits this year.
As Wired reports, the announcement of Iwata’s death sent ripples through the gaming and technology communities, with many turning out to social media to express condolences. From developers and players all over the industry, to major companies and competitors including Sony and Microsoft, the announcement of Iwata’s death sparked an outpouring of support from all over gaming.