Nintendo’s Hiroshi Yamauchi dead at 85

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20 September 2013 | 0

Former president of Nintendo Hiroshi Yamauchi passed away at a hospital in central Japan.

Yamauchi, 85, served as president of Nintendo from 1949 to 2002. He continued to serve as an adviser after his departure from the company, and was one of the richest men in Japan.

Under Yamauchi’s stewardship, Nintendo hired Mario creator Shigeru Miyamoto and launched the Famicom, the video game console that jumpstarted the North American game market when it arrived in the US as the Nintendo Entertainment System (NES).

Video games wouldn’t exist as we know them today without the NES, and the NES wouldn’t exist without Yamauchi.

 

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The grandson of Nintendo founder Fusajiro Yamauchi, Hiroshi Yamauchi took the pivotal step of transforming Nintendo from a small-scale card manufacturer to a toy company, narrowly avoiding bankruptcy in the process. He led Nintendo into the growing American arcade market with Donkey Kong in 1981, then made Nintendo a US household name by releasing the NES in 1985.

The NES was a smash hit that single-handedly revitalized the games business after the video game market crashed in 1983. Today the video game business is booming, and Yamauchi is credited for making a number of key decisions that helped the game industry – and Nintendo – prosper.

Yamauchi fostered creative talents like Miyamoto because he believed video game developers could and should be artists, not just engineers. While Yamauchi was known for running Nintendo with a bit of an iron fist – every game published on the NES had to be approved by him first, for example – he had a proven knack for identifying successful ideas.

Under his leadership, Nintendo created some of the most beloved and long-running game franchises in the world, including Mario, Metroid, and the Legend of Zelda.

Yamauchi stepped down as company president in 2002 and was succeeded by Satoru Iwata, who currently leads Nintendo as the company struggles with floundering Wii U sales and an evolving mobile game market.

IDG News Service

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