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Sad news out of the Nintendo camp this past week. Longstanding Nintendo staple, former CEO, current majority chairman and overall visionary, Hiroshi Yamauchi, has passed away after a battle with pneumonia in Japan. He was 85 years old.
It’s really hard to put into words just how important Mr. Yamauchi was to the Big N. He originally ran the company for 53 years, transforming them from a simple toy and trading card company to the gaming powerhouse they eventually became. It wasn’t until 2002 that he took a step down from his position as president, giving way to Satoru Iwata.
Seeing the electronic craze happening in America with companies like Atari and Magnavox in the late 1970s, Yamauchi strove to tap into that market eventually bringing on the very young Shigeru Miyamoto to help accomplish this goal. In 1981, Donkey Kong was released into the arcades, converted from unsold Radar Scope machines and…well, you know the rest. It went on to become a mega hit and soon the Nintendo craze began.
What I find most interesting about this man is that during the NES era (at least) he was the sole person approving or declining games for the system. So that game you loved playing on the NES? Thank Yamauchi for that. Somehow, the man knew what people wanted. His management style tended to be a bit imperialistic especially when he first took power at Nintendo in 1949. Honestly though, you can’t argue with the success he’s had because of it however.
Rest in peace Hiroshi Yamauchi, you leave behind an incredible legacy and a void that cannot be filled.