Nintendo has announced its president and CEO Satoru Iwata has died of cancer at the age of 55.
Satoru Iwata underwent surgery in 2014 and had resumed his duties after a brief period of recovery.
A highly revered figure in the Japanese gaming scene, Satoru Iwata was considered the leading figure behind some of Nintendo’s most popular devices since he joined the company in 2000.
Most recently, Satoru Iwata led Nintendo into the rapidly growing mobile gaming sector.
The iconic video game maker has been losing market share to top competitors like Sony’s PlayStation and Microsoft’s XBox, with its latest Wii U console third in line.
Nintendo made its first annual operating profit in four years to the year that ended in March.
Satoru Iwata started out as a programmer in a Nintendo subsidiary in the 1980s and became president of Nintendo in 2002.
Under his leadership, Nintendo launched its hugely successful Wii and Nintendo DS consoles and he was considered the crucial driver behind the focus on easy-to-use consoles, a move that allowed the company to tap into a much wider audience beyond the traditional gaming community.
Tributes have been coming in on social media with the team at PlayStation tweeting: “Thank you for everything, Mr. Iwata.”
Satoru Iwata’s death comes as Nintendo expects to double its annual operating profit based on the long-awaited entry in the rapidly growing smartphone gaming sector to counter weakening sales of its traditional consoles.
In March this year, Nintendo announced a deal with mobile gaming company DeNA to start their foray into mobile gaming.