Nintendo's Satoru Iwata dies at 55

Jul 13, 2015, 12:30 AM EDT
Satoru Iwata, president of Nintendo Co., speaks during a news conference in Tokyo, Japan, on Tuesday, March 17, 2015.
AFP/Getty Images

Japanese video game maker Nintendo has said its chief executive Satoru Iwata has died of cancer at the age of 55, reports the BBC.

Iwata underwent surgery last year and had resumed his duties after a brief period of recovery.

He is a highly revered figure in the Japanese gaming scene and considered the leading figure behind Nintendo's successful turnaround after he joined the company in the year 2000.

Most recently, he led Nintendo into the rapidly growing mobile gaming sector. Iwata started out as a programmer in a Nintendo subsidiary in the 1980s and became president of Nintendo in 2002.

Under his leadership, the company launched its hugely successful Wii and Nintendo DS consoles and he is 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.

"Mr Iwata was a titan - he certainly will be missed," Marc Einstein, head of digital media at Frost & Sullivan in Tokyo, told the BBC. "He was very much known for being a gamer first and a [chief executive] second - a game changing figure."