Satoru Iwata, who passed away July 11, 2015, served as the fourth president and chief executive officer of Nintendo -- and was as beloved as the video game characters he helped create. Taking over as president in 2002, at the age of 42, Iwata was the first in the company's history who was outside of the founding Yamauchi family.
During Iwata's tenure, the company boasted explosive sales of the Wii and the Nintendo DS. In 2009, the Wii became the best-selling video game console in the world as demand for the original Wii console and software generated a skyrocketing revenue of 1.8 trillion yen ($14.7 billion), with a net operating profit of 555 billion yen ($4.5 billion). Iwata geared Nintendo's products not just toward hard core gamers, but families and ordinary people.
Iwata refused calls to diversify Nintendo, arguing that the company was most successful when it focused on its core mission of producing games.
The company opened its first 10,000-square-foot Nintendo World store in New York's Rockefeller Center, where customers would start lining up at the heart of Manhattan in the wee hours for the Wii.
Iwata also guided the company through hard times when the Wii U and GameCube beset the gaming giant with some of its weakest sales. Nonetheless, Iwata refused pressure to lay off employees.
Iwata also caught up with rapidly changing trends in the industry and had been moving the company into mobile gaming to shape Nintendo's future. But he always reminded those around him that Nintendo's success came from its creativity, not pure technological prowess.
Iwata wasn't just your regular, buttoned-up corporate executive. Since 2011, the president had connected with fans through "Nintendo Direct," which were regular online press conferences he hosted to get the word out about the latest games.
In a brief statement Sunday, Nintendo announced that the widely adored executive passed away from a bile duct tumor. He was 55.