Recently, we have lost a great man, and brilliant businessman and visionary, not to mention a man who wasn't afraid to think outside of the box. All the while he always kept the players and Nintendo's "core fans" in mind, and proved that you didn't need to have gritty and dark, bloody action packed blockbuster titles. No, he kept with a formula that Nintendo had used since the onset of the release of the NES back in the 80's, and it worked. He has once said this, "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."
He was a guy who saw that games could be more than just mindless shooters built for teenage boys. During his time at Nintendo, Satoru Iwata led the charge in bringing games to a far wider audience. With the launch of the DS and Wii, he oversaw one of the most successful periods in the company's history, trans-forming games into things that didn't just entertain you, but into things that could improve your brain and keep you physically fit. And these seemingly gimmicks that would fade from thought within t-minus 5 minutes, actually sold well and the continued response was unprecedented.
Not everyone saw what Iwata saw. When the DS was unveiled at E3 in 2004, questions were raised about whether anyone wanted a second touchscreen on a handheld and what possible purpose it could serve for games. In fact before the show, Iwata said that "it is a 'unique' machine, so not everybody will understand it right away. There might only be 10 to 15 people applauding during its unveiling at E3, but they'll understand it once they touch it."
He was right, of course. The DS, in particular the tweaked DS Lite, would go on to sell over 154 million units, becoming the biggest selling handheld of all time (ahead of the original 1989 Game Boy). The DS was swiftly followed by the unveiling of the Wii in 2005. After the muted reception to the GameCube, expectations were high, but few could have predicted just how successful the Wii and its family-friendly motion controls and games would be.
In retrospect, it's sad to see that with so much to be proud of, one of Iwata's last public statements was that the company had "let down" fans after a poor showing at E3. And that made no mention of the poor commercial performance of the Wii U, Nintendo's questionable stab at a hybrid games console and tablet. That Nintendo would take these sort of risks at all, however, is a testament to the creativity and leadership of Iwata and the company he built.
While many game companies are lumbered with Execubot 5000, Nintendo had not only a brilliant coder at the helm—see the likes of Earthbound, Super Smash Bros., and Pokémon Stadium—but also a true believer in the medium. The gaming world could easily be a much darker place without Nintendo there to remind everyone that games can be bright and colorful, and, yes, inclusive, not to mention mind-blowingly creative.
So, what does the future hold with the loss of Iwata and his ingenuity? One can only speculate, but there has been word that Shergu Miyamoto and Genyo Takeda are stepping up to take up the mantle of representative directors. Both of these men are businessmen, but more than that they are hardware and game developers and gamers at heart and have been responsible for some of the fondest memories in our gaming life. They certainly know the industry. Miyamoto said that "the entire development team at Nintendo will remain committed to our development policy which Mr. Iwata and we have been constructing together and to yield the development results which Mr. Iwata would appreciate."
And with the impending release of Nintendo's new project, one can speculate about what it may be, and while information is sparse, I hold out hope because Nintendo has always played it unsafe and sure they've had hits and misses, but then again, are they alone in that regard? Short answer is Nope!
I will close this article with mentioning Nintendo's foray into mobile gaming. While some may be thinking, it's about damn time. I'd say their cautious approach to this market has merit, what with all the F2P games that market themselves as totally free, only to drain your wallet out with non-stop micro transactions for aesthetic items such as hair styles, clothing, etc. Iwata chastised this practice and guaranteed to break this trend, and he didn't want to simply put his retro titles on the Nintendo store or Google play or Apple App Store and slap a virtual joystick and call it a day. The man was a visionary to say the least and more than that he gave a damn about us the gamers. Rant done. Enjoy your day and remember to be good to each other.
Sound off below your sentiments in regards to Nintendo and Iwata's passing and what you think will come of it.