Satoru Iwata, the president and CEO of Nintendo, has died aged 55, the company announced on Sunday evening.
Iwata – who had been battling bile duct cancer – passed away on Saturday, Nintendo said.
The former programmer had been in charge at Nintendo since 2002, overseeing the incredible success of consoles such as the Nintendo Wii and Nintendo DS during a golden era for the iconic gaming firm.
In a brief statement on Sunday, the Japanese giant said: “Nintendo Co., Ltd. deeply regrets to announce that President Satoru Iwata passed away on July 11, 2015 due to a bile duct growth.”
His health issues first came to light last year, when he missed the 2014 E3 expo in order to have surgery. He was also absent from this year's show, but had continued to work.
The insightful Iwata had recently revealed Nintendo’s plan to launch an NX console in 2016, while also confirming the company would be entering the mobile arena for the first time.
Iwata was the company’s fourth president, and the only one not to come from the Yamauchi family, who founded the firm in 1889.
His death at just 55 is sure to come as a huge loss to the company, and the Nintendo community at large, as it seeks to turn the page on a new era of gaming.