Satoru Iwata, Nintendo President, Dies From Bile Duct Growth At 55

Satoru Iwata, the president of Nintendo Co., has died from a bile duct growth at just 55-years-old.

The company released a statement on Sunday reporting that the Wii creator passed away from a cancerous bile duct growth on Saturday, and which they “deeply regret” having to announce, though no other details about the CEO’s death were provided.

Iwata has been President of Nintendo Co. since May of 2002, and the CEO of Nintendo of America since June, 2013. Upon taking over the company in 2002, Iwata breathed life back into the company: Nintendo was able to report substantial growth for the next 15 years, according to NBC News.

The decline of Nintendo until Iwata’s tenure as president was attributed partly to the company’s resistance to technological advancements in gaming as a whole. Part of the company’s explosion after he became the president can be attributed to Iwata’s creation of both the Wii gaming system and the Nintendo DS.

Satoru Iwata underwent a surgery to remove the cancer in June, 2014, after which his doctors reported that the prognosis was good as they had been able to catch and remove the growth on his bile duct early.

Iwata had regularly been attending meetings with shareholders and company staff as recently as May of this year. At that time, Iwata held a news conference to review the 2014 financial report and indicated that the company had resumed making a profit for the first time in three years.

The death of the man who called himself a “gamer at heart” hit the gaming community hard. Twitter exploded with heartfelt tributes to Iwata from all over the world.

The sad news of Iwata’s death was made a bit brighter when a rainbow appeared over the company’s headquarters two days after he died.

The entire quote made by Iwata sums up his views on his life and the gaming niche as a whole. “On my business card, I am a corporate president,” he said in a speech to thousands of attendees of the Game Developers Conference in San Jose, California, in 2005, just three years after he’d become the head of Nintendo.

“In my mind, I am a game developer. In my heart I am a gamer.”

[Photo via Handout / Getty Images]