R.I.P Satoru Iwata

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R.I.P Satoru Iwata

Satoru Iwata was a man who experienced a lot of things. He's seen the development of a host of different games and different systems. And now, word has emerged that Satoru Iwata has passed on following a bile duct growth. As sad a day as this is for gamers everywhere--and Nintendo fans in particular--it leaves some unpleasant questions in its wake.

Iwata's career has gone on for some time, starting out as a freelance programmer for HAL Laboratory. Eventually, he became a full-time member of HAL, and eventually, its president. Later, in 2000, he joined Nintendo as the head of its corporate planning division, and two years later, took over as president from departing Hiroshi Yamauchi, becoming the fourth such president. During Iwata's tenure, the company developed the GameCube, the Wii, the Wii U, and the popular Nintendo DS line of hardware.

Upon Iwata's death, a series of tributes began, including the company lowering its flags to half-mast. Drawings and testimonials emerged from all over, including Smash Bros creator Masahiro Sakurai. While Sakurai noted that this wasn't "...a regular day," he carried on in a fashion that Iwata would have sympathized with, nothing that Iwata was always "throwing" himself "into (game) development." Sakurai, meanwhile, did likewise.

The question here, of course, is who will take over for Iwata. That's an issue that's likely to be decided in fairly short order. Whoever it is that takes over, meanwhile, is going to have a serious challenge on his or her hands. Nintendo's fortunes haven't been the greatest of late, and as far as the console wars go, Nintendo hasn't posed a serious challenge in the field since the Wii came out. While this hasn't exactly been a death knell for Nintendo--the company is sufficiently flush to carry on for many years to come, at last report--the fact remains that this is a company in a bit of a decline.

Some might say the key here is to embrace the casual gaming market. Nintendo's bright spot of the last few years has been its mobile gaming market, and some reports suggest that the company's getting more and more into mobile anyway. Building on that, meanwhile, is a natural extension of current operations, and well worth carrying on. Others have looked toward future Nintendo developments like the NX system. If it were sufficiently powerful, Nintendo could draw in third-party support, which in turn offers a better range of titles to offer. Given how Nintendo's lineup has looked over the last couple years, it can certainly use more titles on hand.

Regardless of who ends up taking over Nintendo following Iwata's death, there's still quite a bit to be concerned about. Nintendo's futures haven't looked good in a while, and Nintendo's got to get back in action proper if it expects to fend off Sony and Microsoft. The next few months will tell quite the story, so stick around; the next stage of Nintendo is about to start.

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