The news of Satoru Iwata’s passing hit myself and the rest of the news team like a train as soon as the announcement spread online. I happened upon the news early via my Twitter feed literally just as it had been revealed, and believe me, it’s not at all how I planned to end my weekend. I immediately shared it with the rest of the Zelda Universe staff, and if I could begin to explain the level of genuine sadness that struck across the rest of the team, it’d go some way in proving just how much of an influential man Mr. Iwata was. It’s the first time I’ve absolutely dreaded having to actually publish a news story.
We’re still very much in disbelief upon the loss of such an iconic visionary at Nintendo. Having witnessed what an impact the man clearly had on us all upon this huge loss, we all agreed on bidding our farewell with this small tribute article. Between us all on the news team, we have many fond memories and so much to thank this man for. It’s not unreasonable to imagine that many of us may not even be here writing Nintendo news without Iwata driving Nintendo forward for all these years and showing us all the importance of video games.
I’ll let the team take it away. Here’s our thoughts and best wishes for the one and only Satoru Iwata, and a small collection of his most memorable quotes.
Satoru Iwata brought a lot of good to the gaming industry. Whether it was programming Earthbound with HAL Laboratory, overseeing the highs and lows of the company since 2002, taking pay cuts to make sure employees had jobs and making appearances in various Nintendo Direct live streams, Iwata seemed to always have other people in mind. “Video games are meant to be just one thing. Fun. Fun for everyone.” That statement best describes Mr. Iwata, and personally meant quite a bit to this older gamer.
Iwata truly knew what it meant to make games from the ground up, and it showed in much of his work. The gaming industry has lost a giant, and I will sorely miss seeing Iwata-san’s name at the end of some of my favorite gaming experiences to date. Rest in peace, good sir; you will be greatly missed.
“Video games are meant to be just one thing. Fun. Fun for everyone!”
I fell in love with video games at a young age, and by the time I began middle school I was eyeball-deep in my love for Nintendo and Sony. But it was and still is always Nintendo who held the bigger part of my heart. What were once foreign names in a game’s credits became like family to me, despite having never met them. Satoru Iwata was one of those names.
When my household grew so volatile; when I was sunk deep into depression; when everything looked bleak — my games were there to distract me from dark thoughts in a way my books could never meet. I guided Mario over blocks and into pipes. I sucked in powers with Kirby. I helped save the world over and over with Link. The connections to these characters, and to the fellow gamers who love them too, could only be achieved with the help and imagination of people like Satoru Iwata. To learn he was no longer with us is a blow, but it is also an opportunity to carry on and enjoy his work, as well as the work of the company he has left behind. Thank you for everything, Mr. Iwata.
Mr. Satoru Iwata has had a huge impact on many of our lives and for some of us, this might feel as if we’ve lost a family member. Not only was he the head of Nintendo for 15 years, but he also entered our homes through numerous Nintendo Directs, Iwata Asks, and E3 presentations and seemed to be speaking to us as friends. He clearly had a passion for video games, the Nintendo brand, and most importantly, the fans.
Iwata’s work helped to turn Nintendo around with the development of the Wii platform and Nintendo DS. Let’s face it, many of us have a piece of his soul in our homes, whether we have a Wii, Wii U, and/or 3DS. He was a pioneer in the industry and will be fondly remembered by many of us. I am deeply saddened to hear of Mr Iwata’s passing and I am keeping his family in my thoughts as they go through this difficult time.
“Thinking differently and holding strongly to your strategy can disrupt an entire industry, and in a good way.”
I had literally just saved Ruto from Jabu-Jabu’s belly when I got the notification of Mr. Iwata’s passing. It’s sad to know that such a wonderful and influential man is no longer with us. As an introverted person, all I want to do is thank him for allowing me to create a world of my own where everything was bliss and joy. All the childhood memories of me playing late into the night playing Zelda, or racing on Mario Kart and playing Mario Tennis with my brother, it was all thanks to a man like him, who had dreams and did his best to follow them.
He was able to bring much joy to not just me, but the whole world thanks to that dream of his, becoming a game designer. Perhaps over the past couple of years, people were not content with the games he was putting out along with the rest of the company, but I whole-heartedly believe that there was only one thing on his mind when creating those games: to create fun times for everyone playing them. For that and so many more things, I wish you a peaceful afterlife with the Big Boss upstairs, who I’m sure has welcomed you with open arms. Rest in peace, Satoru Iwata.
While Satoru Iwata was just a humble man with a love of gaming, he changed the face of the gaming industry like no one has ever seen. When people said the original Nintendo DS would be a failure? He wasn’t phased, and created one of the best-selling pieces of video game hardware of all time. When people mocked the Wii’s name, he wasn’t phased and the system went on to sell over 100 million units.
It wasn’t about the sales numbers to Iwata-san though, it was about making games that were fun. There were children and elderly alike who both were able to enjoy the systems that were released during Iwata’s tenure at Nintendo. He expanded the gaming market like no other and truly cared about his consumers, and his impact on the gaming industry has not even been fully realized.
“We do not run from risk. We run to it. We are taking the risk to move beyond the boundaries of the game industry to reach new players”
I always looked forward to Nintendo Directs, not just for the news of upcoming games, but to see Iwata. I loved his straight-laced approach, and how perfectly still he would stand when speaking, but knowing he still had a fun and goofy side to him. He had a genuine love of the company and gaming that came through in his presentations.
He never lost sight of the fun factor in gaming. I don’t know about y’all, but I equate “play” with “fun”. Some of my best memories are of playing video games with my family and how much fun we had. My all-time favorite games exist because of Iwata. He knew that games should be more than flashy graphics and copious amounts of blood. I can’t help but wonder if this is how it felt when the world lost Walt Disney. Both brought so much joy to a world so fixed on seriousness and tragedy.
“Please understand.” Mr. Iwata, I always understood, but this time, I don’t — or at least, I don’t want to. I don’t want to understand that I won’t hear his voice in the next Nintendo Direct, or that I will never get the opportunity to meet him, or personally thank him for making such a positive impact on my life. I don’t want to understand that now I have to take him off of my list of people I want to hug (yes, I have a list and yes, I know it’s weird). But what I do understand is how happy you and your work made me. Thank you.
Throughout the past few years of reporting and editing for Zelda Universe, I’ve had the honour of reading and watching everything Satoru Iwata has shared, be it his Iwata Asks, Nintendo Direct presentations, public statements and interviews. Everything he has said has been nothing less than inspirational. Before that, I recall seeing his name and face throughout the various issues of Nintendo Official Magazine, pretty much ever since I was old enough to read them and start buying issues on my own. His presence at Nintendo has been so integrated in my mind for so long that he seemed like an essential core of the company; the beating heart of Nintendo, pumping inspiration and enjoyment into fellow employees and fans alike.
My learning of who Mr. Iwata-san was was around the same time my own heart was set on one day becoming a successful video game journalist, and he was very much an essential part of encouraging that dream by proving that games are so much more than a casual hobby. He lived and breathed video games his whole adult life, and I intend to do the same. His work on the DS and Wii of course pushed Nintendo to its most successful period ever, and allowed me the opportunity to show others, who would otherwise not touch a video game with a barge pole, just how fun they can be.
As well as boosting Nintendo to new heights and breathing new life into the company from a business sense, Iwata strived to entertain the fanbase and share in our passion, showing that he’s also an avid gamer just like us and not just a business man. There’s a very good reason why you’ll see “[laughs]” so frequently in his Iwata Ask interviews: because he truly loved what he did. From the ongoing jokes in Nintendo Directs to his enthusiastic stage presence at past E3 conferences, he was as much a character at Nintendo as any of the creations the company made. He was a rare example of someone in the industry who’s not just about sales figures and business sense. He was a mascot as well as a creator — what other video game publisher could turn their president into a puppet and make it both entertaining and recognisable? I sincerely hope that more figures in the industry follow in his footsteps, and let us never forget that games are about fun above all us.
It’s with great sadness that I realise I won’t be publishing another news story with a new statement or interview from this amazing man. I wish I could have had the chance to meet him, and thank him for everything he has done to keep my dreams and passion alive. He may be gone, but his influence will live on in us all. For me, it’ll be in the work I do here at Zelda Universe and in replaying the many, many Nintendo games I own in years to come. Goodbye, old friend.
“On my business card, I am a corporate president. In my mind, I am a game developer. But in my heart, I am a gamer.”