Nintendo CEO passes away, successor not yet named

Satoru Iwata, who led the company from 2002, loses long battle with cancer

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Nintendo CEO passes away, successor not yet named Iwata aided in the programming of Pokémon Stadium for the Nintendo 64 (Getty Images)
By  Tom Paye Published  July 13, 2015

Nintendo's hands-on CEO, Satoru Iwata, has passed away at the age of 55, following a long battle with cancer, the video game company announced today.

Iwata's death has created leadership doubts at the firm, according to Reuters. Nintendo has not yet announced a successor to Iwata, who has lead the company since 2002 and was the first president to be unrelated to the founding Yamauchi family.

However, Reuters reported that senior managing director Genyo Takeda will lead the committee for Iwata's funeral - a possible sign that he will be next in line for the top job.

Nintendo has struggling in recent years against competition from more powerful gaming consoles from Sony and Microsoft. However, its most recent console, the Wii U, enjoyed a surge in sales over the past year, thanks largely to the release of Mario Kart 8, the latest in the company's venerable racing game series. Indeed, the company says that it expects its annual operating profit to double this year.

And earlier this year, Iwata signed a deal with online game maker DeNA. The agreement will see Nintendo games and characters appear on mobile phones - a move that Iwata had traditionally resisted for fear of cannibalising sales of Nintendo's handheld consoles.

Before joining Nintendo as a director in 2000, Iwata had been the president of game developer HAL Laboratory, which he rescued from the verge of bankruptcy. He worked on popular Nintendo games such as EarthBound and Kirby, and assisted in the development of Pokémon Gold and Silver for the Game Boy Colour.

At the same time, he aided in the programming of Pokémon Stadium for the Nintendo 64 by reading the original coding of Pokémon Red and Green and reworking it for the new title.

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