The games industry lost one of its most beloved icons when Nintendo President Satoru Iwata passed away from bile duct cancer in July of last year at the age of 55. And yet, Iwata is still bringing joy to tens of millions of people worldwide in the form of Pokemon Go.
Asia Nikkei reports that Iwata spent his final moments working with The Pokemon Company President Tsunekazu Ishihara on Pokemon Go from his hospital room. The pair of executives are said to have been close friends. They remotely exchanged views on the game that would go on to become a global phenomenon right up until Iwata’s passing.
After spending years fighting investors’ increasingly demanding requests for Nintendo to develop mobile games, the company finally relented in March of 2015. Iwata was already very sick at that time, having undergone surgery nearly a year prior in June 2014 but staying on at Nintendo afterwards and insisting he had “unfinished business.” His final public appearance was at a yearly Nintendo shareholders meeting in June 2015. Two weeks later, the world had lost Iwata, the first Nintendo president from outside the company’s founding Yamauchi family.
Pokemon Go may be his last or one of his last legacies. Though the game was co-developed by The Pokemon Company and former Google subsidiary Niantic, Iwata was closely involved in the game’s development since its planning stages.
An executive from another games company who knew Iwata well believes the final product accomplishes what the late head of Nintendo had in mind for it. “Children can enjoy Pokemon Go without spending too much money,” said the executive. This is probably what Iwata-san aimed for.”