Nintendo President Satoru Iwata dies at 55

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Satoru Iwata, president of Nintendo Co. on Jan. 31, 2013. Getty Images

JAPAN – Nintendo President Satoru Iwata, who had served as leader of the company since 2002 and who presided over the launch of the monumentally successful Wii video game console, died Saturday.

He was 55.

Nintendo announced Iwata’s death with a brief statement on its corporate website Sunday. Iwata, according to the statement, died due to a bile duct growth.

Iwata, who had been known to be in ill health, had skipped North America’s largest video game trade show, the Electronic Entertainment Expo, for the last two years.

Born Dec. 6, 1959, Iwata was named director of Nintendo’s operations in June 2000. He assumed the role of president of the Kyoto, Japan-based company in May 2002, following the retirement of Hiroshi Yamauchi, a descendant of Nintendo’s founding family.

Yamauchi ran Nintendo for 52 years and died in 2013.

Iwata, who had previously worked with Nintendo developer Hal Laboratory, held the reins of the company during the launch of two of its most successful gaming consoles, the hand-held Nintendo DS and the home system the Nintendo Wii.

The latter was released in 2006 and to date has sold more than 101 million units worldwide.