(Editor’s Note: The world lost Mr. Satoru Iwata, at the age of 55, to bile duct cancer. He passed away on July 11th, 2015. Below, C_Cage remembers Mr. Iwata and the impact he had on the industry)
It’s hard to explain the influence Mr. Satoru Iwata had on the video game industry. From a financial point of view, he is credited with nearly doubling the stock price of Nintendo due to the success of the Wii and DS systems. When the release of the 3DS and Wii U systems were not as successful and started a decline in profits, Iwata voluntarily halved his salary in order to help the company financially.
Mr. Iwata was much more than just a businessman, however. While working at HAL Laboratory, the developers of Pokémon Gold and Silver came to him with an issue: they couldn’t fit the whole game on the GameBoy Color cartridge. Iwata created a compression format that was so effective, not only was the game able to fit, there was so much space left over that the developers were able to add the Kanto region to the game. Not only that, he is considered to be the sole reason that Super Smash Brothers Melee was released on time. His experience as a software developer certainly helped his position as President of a gaming company.
In a forum post here at Lift Gaming, some users shared their thoughts:
Lim89: “Sad news. For all the missteps his company have made the last few years he cared a lot about games and it’s a loss for the industry.”
DoctorFark: “When I read this yesterday I teared up a little. We JUST saw the man at E3 in that amazing puppet-sketch. It was a sad day for gaming yesterday. As much as I disagree with Nintendo’s direction regarding console development I really enjoyed the steps they took to break the traditional gaming ‘box’”.
Casualamity: “Very saddening news. I’ve been a Nintendo fan since I was a child, and I’m not going to lie, I shed my fair share of tears about this. He may have made some questionable business decisions, but I feel he embodied everything it means to be a gamer. A master programmer, game developer, and all around good guy; he will be missed.”
As many know, I personally am a massive Nintendo fan. While I certainly agree that lately some of the business decisions the company have made have been somewhat questionable as DoctorFark said, the man played a part in creating some of the video games that defined my childhood. Obviously I have never met the man, nor have I ever communicated with him. Yet his passing had an emotional impact on me that few “celebrity” deaths ever had. This is a man who genuinely loved video games and wanted to bring the best possible experience to his fans.
I’m going to end this with a quote I found recently from Iwata that I think sums up how he felt. This was said after playtesters gave the original Super Smash Brothers a positive rating:
“We at HAL found a way to bring our idea to life. Our team believed deeply in the concept and we did not waver in our approach. So in this important sense, we at HAL — we’re just like every one of you. Even if we come from different sides of the world, speak different languages, even if we eat too many chips or rice balls, even if we have different tastes in games, every one of us here today is identical in the most important way: each one of us has the heart of a gamer.”