News Article

Nintendo's Former President, Hiroshi Yamauchi, Has Passed Away

Posted by Thomas Whitehead

He was 85 years old

Update:

Satoru Iwata has issued the following short statement:

We will continue to treasure the values Yamauchi taught us - that what makes you unique lies at the core of entertainment. And we at Nintendo will continue to change the company flexibly to adapt to the times, as Yamauchi did, to carry on his spirit.

Original Article:

Nintendo has announced that the third President of the company, Hiroshi Yamauchi, has passed away — he was 85 years old.

Born in Kyoto, Japan — where Nintendo's headquarters are based — Yamauchi-san took over the Presidency of Nintendo at a young age, in 1949, when his grandfather and predecessor suffered from ill-health. At that stage Nintendo was a trading card company, yet under his leadership the company began to truly embrace the potential of electronic entertainment in the late 1970s and '80s. It was under Yamauchi-san that Nintendo produced its early arcade products, and of course the President elected to entrust a young Shigeru Miyamoto to produce an arcade which would become the iconic Donkey Kong — a game that transformed the company's early fortunes in the industry.

In the following decades Nintendo would establish itself as the largest video game console manufacturer in the world, with the NES, Super NES, Nintendo 64 and GameCube, as well as the series of portable Game Boy systems. After such an extended period at the helm of the company and having overseen its rapid expansion in the video game industry, Yamauchi-san stepped down on 31st May 2002 to be succeeded by Nintendo's current President — Satoru Iwata.

Hiroshi Yamauchi was then the chairman of the board of directors until 29th June 2005, and remained the company's biggest shareholder beyond that date. Our condolences to his family.

[via nikkei.com, bbc.co.uk, officialnintendomagazine.co.uk]

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User Comments (163)

Emily_Rogers

#1

Emily_Rogers said:

To call Hiroshi Yamauchi a legend would be an understatement. What this man did for the gaming industry is remarkable.

Rest in Peace. You will be missed.

Ducutzu

#4

Ducutzu said:

This must indeed be a sad day for many people at Nintendo.

If I understand well, he was still advising the people at Nintendo, even if he wasn't running the company. And he probably had many friends there too.

He was a man of vision and he changed the games industry in many ways.

MilesVor

#6

MilesVor said:

@Emily_Rogers I love how the gaming press just credits him for making Nintendo into what it is, and not for... so much more. For making the video game industry what it is. PC, console, or otherwise0

Kyloctopus

#10

Kyloctopus said:

Seriously?!
Yamauchi is a legend, and had it not been for it's vision and intelligence, the video game industry wouldn't be near as great. Thank you, for all you have created and revolutionized Yamauchi. Rest in peace.

HP_3

#11

HP_3 said:

He did so much for Nintendo. He turned them into a videogame company, which is still highly praised to this day. R.I.P. Yamauchi

Hunter-D

#12

Hunter-D said:

He changed the industry forever.

Video games are what they are because of him.

RIP.

Rafie

#13

Rafie said:

Thank you, Yamauchi-san! For everything you've done. Gaming wouldn't be what it is and where it is today without you. You deserve the rest and will be missed!

cookiex

#15

cookiex said:

For all the good (and bad) decisions he's made his leadership changed the face of the gaming industry forever.

R.I.P.

NintyMan

#17

NintyMan said:

I'm very sad. This was a man who made Nintendo what it is today, a wonderful video game company, and made the video game industry what it is as a result. For a man who was not personally into playing video games, he left a crater in the industry. A huge loss for not only Nintendo, but video games in general. The people at Nintendo must be devastated.

Mr. Yamauchi was a great businessman through-and-through and was intense in his efforts to make sure the products from his company were good and sold well, even if it meant getting into arguments with Miyamoto and the other developers. He cared for his company like every president should and deeply honored his family name.

It's been 11 years since he passed the reins to Iwata. That was a smart decision on his part to choose Iwata, because he knew that he needed someone else to lead the company who would better understand the developers. As a businessman, Yamauchi was not very understanding in their work and was sometimes at odds with them over the creativity of the games. By choosing Iwata, who was a developer himself, Yamauchi made sure that there would be a president who could make a better team with the developers and produce better games and make better profits as a result.

Yamauchi should be respected for giving Nintendo the economic backbone to make it through its early years. While the developers craved creativity, Yamauchi wanted to make sure the company was on sound economic footing the whole time. He believed that it took good games to make good money, and he was right and it still holds true today. You will be missed, Yamauchi-san. I'll be praying for his family.

ThomasBW84Admin

#18

ThomasBW84 said:

Hiroshi Yamauchi's death is a great loss for Nintendo and wider gaming industry, which owes so much to his vision. My condolences to his loved ones and colleagues.

cookiex

#19

cookiex said:

He was known for being a rather strict businessman that wouldn't back down from a fight both internally and externally, but one can't deny that he brought much good fortune to the company.

Prof_Clayton

#24

Prof_Clayton said:

Hiroshi Yamauchi's death is certainly very upsetting, as he is the one largely responsible for developing, changing and innovating at Nintendo. Except he did so much more. He was a leader, one that everybody truly respected in his work, and as a person. May he Rest in Peace, and forever live on in our memories.

Kifa

#27

Kifa said:

I'd go as far as to say that this is an end of an era for Nintendo, if not for the entire gaming industry. Sad news indeed... :/

edhe

#29

edhe said:

Hiroshi Yamauchi was the best thing to ever happen to Nintendo.

I hope his legacy will live on at Nintendo.

Bulbousaur

#30

Bulbousaur said:

Hiroshi Yamauchi was one of the great minds who molded the whole of the video game industry to what it is today, and through that a huge part of millions of people's lifes, including mine. RIP

Freakazoid

#31

Freakazoid said:

A great man with great visions and great acomplishements left. So hopefully he finds peace

WiiLovePeace

#34

WiiLovePeace said:

Enjoy the rest Hiroshi, you earned it :) Look down from above as Nintendo continues to bring joy to the world. Peace :)

Shiryu

#35

Shiryu said:

RIP. His vision made not just Nintendo but the industry what it is today. Hopefully he is with Gunpei now, playing some mean Hanafuda card match in heaven.

CM30

#36

CM30 said:

RIP Hiroshi Yamauchi. You turned Nintendo into the fantastic, successful company it is today, and we all owe you a significant debt for that. Rest in peace.

Captain_Gonru

#38

Captain_Gonru said:

Sad, but certainly a life full of great accomplishments. We can all only hope to achieve so much.

Frapp

#46

Frapp said:

Such sad news, but what a fantastic life he had. Few will get to achieve so much in their careers.
Gamers and gaming should feel forever indebted to him for his marvellous legacy.

Yasurakani nemure, Yamauchi-san. And thank you.

ajcismo

#47

ajcismo said:

Its a sad day for not just Nintendo but the gaming community as a whole. I don't know where this industry would be today without Mr.Yamauchi, but I know it wouldn't be better. Salute!

Shworange

#51

Shworange said:

Wow! He took the company over as president at the age of 21?! That is amazing. Imagine all of the changes he saw in his lifetime. Going from cards to toys to little electronic games to a massive world wide video game and cultural phenomenon. What a life!
心よりお悔やみ申し上げます (kokoro yori okuyami moushiagemasu) [From the heart I give you my condolences]

TKOWL

#54

TKOWL said:

He was also found to be the man with the most money to his name in Japan a few years ago.

Sad loss for the industry.

Znerd

#55

Znerd said:

RIP. Hiroshi Yamauchi
and thank you for everything you have done for Nintendo. You will not only be missed by Nintendo and your Family but by all Nintendo fanboys like us at Nintendo Life

TreesenHauser

#57

TreesenHauser said:

No joke, I began getting all teary-eyed when I read the headline. This is a profoundly sad day for the gaming industry. There aren't any words I can say that haven't been said already by other gamers here. Yamauchi oversaw Nintendo's operations as they transitioned into the electronic era, where Nintendo's footprint is still seen even to this day.

Bless him for everything he did for his company, and we should feel blessed that he did what was right for the company. Gaming truly wouldn't be what it is today if it weren't for him. R.I.P.

Zael

#61

Zael said:

with Yamauchi we have lived the best year of nintendo, nes snes n64, gamecube, He was the real president, the reason why videogames have become great. He has brought nintendo to the real quality, he was the reason why Nintendo was respected and was on the top of industry.
A great man who made a great nintendo,
Thank you Yamauchi

Memeboy3

#62

Memeboy3 said:

He was so Amazing just calling him a god is an insult, if it were not for him...The industry(in US) would've been killed by the 1983 crash.
Rest in Peace :'(
Manly tears were shed that day....

ricklongo

#65

ricklongo said:

I guess I could safely say that, were not for this man's vision, I would have never gotten a NES, and as such wouldn't be the gamer I am today.

R.I.P.

sadsack777

#66

sadsack777 said:

to u and u only sir (Hiroshi Yamauchi) I will take my hat off and stand well proud of what u done in ur life for Nintendo , u will be truly missed by all ur fans who ive been with Nintendo... RIP... AND THIS DAY ON I HOPE NINTENDO DO THE THINGS TO KEEP UR NAME GOING FOR A LONG TIME TO COME

TruenoGT

#68

TruenoGT said:

I'm shocked. RIP, Yamauchi-sama. His contributions to the industry are legendary and he's touched countless people who have gotten to enjoy Nintendo games. Thank you and condolences...

shingi_70

#70

shingi_70 said:

RIP. He lived a pretty great life and is reposible for some of my favorite parts of my childhood.

Retrowire

#71

Retrowire said:

Rest in Peace, Yamauchi-san. Thank you for your work in life and enjoy the next adventure. Thank you.

Mystemo

#74

Mystemo said:

Really sad news :(
But I'm at least glad that he left the company in good hands.

jpcline004

#75

jpcline004 said:

"began to embrace the potential of electronic entertainment in the 1980s"

That should read 70s if you are talking about where they "began". Color TV Game, which gave them license to sell Pong in Japan, was their first foray into video games. By the 80s, they were "all in" with Donkey Kong and Game and Watch development and it was the center of their business expansion.

XavandSo

#78

XavandSo said:

This is truly a sad day for not just Nintendo fans, but all who consider themselves gamers. Our way of entertainment is forever in debt to this man's risk taking. Rest in Peace Yamauchi-san.

AllCreation

#81

AllCreation said:

85 years and at least 64 of them (give or take) spent influencing the gaming world... Man, that's the kinda life I wanna live... RIP

Joygame51

#83

Joygame51 said:

Death is alway a bit sad but he lived a life full and with many reasons to rejoice!
He will be remembered for the fun he brought to so many!
His family has plenty of reason to be proud!

LeonChamp

#84

LeonChamp said:

RIP Hiroshi-San !! My childhood wouldn't of been the same without Nintendo,
So I would also like to say a massive THANK YOU!!

Zodiak13

#86

Zodiak13 said:

All deaths are sad, but they hit home more when a person dies that has had an effect on our lives. Nintendo games have been a part of my life since I was 6, when the NES first came out, and my life would have a hole w/out them in it. R.I.P. and thanks for everything you helped Nintendo do.

Caryslan

#88

Caryslan said:

It does not matter if you're a Sony, Microsoft, or Nintendo fanboy we all need to honor this man for what his did for Video Games. His impact to video games ins staggering, and thanks to him we saw numerous successful systems, tons of Nintendo franchises that still get sequels to this day, and the modern model of third-party development that the big 3 use.

He even had a hand in Sony creating the Playstation.

His reach and impact in video games is amazing, and as someone who never played a game in his life he had the amazing instinct to know what would sell on the market.

I hope his family the best, and may he rest in peace.

bezerker99

#89

bezerker99 said:

R.I.P. Yamauchi-san. Thanks for all your contributions to the video gaming world. Eighty five is a pretty good run.

Tasuki

#90

Tasuki said:

R.I.P. Yamauchi-san. Without your contributions to the gaming world I am sure we wouldn't be where we are today in gaming.

Hints_Whispers

#91

Hints_Whispers said:

I didn't know who this guy was until I read this article and the corresponding comments. Seems like the real deal. It's sad that he's gone now.

Pichuka97

#92

Pichuka97 said:

Oh no. RIP Mr. Yamauchi. I love this guy because if it wasn't for him, Nintendo probably wouldn't be the company it is today.

Hungry-Bear

#94

Hungry-Bear said:

R.I.P Yamauchi-san. Your leadership has brought joy and wonder with innovative products that changed the landscape of gaming. Thank you for your hard work, hopefully your company will be around till the end of time.

Nintex

#97

Nintex said:

Of all my heroes that have passed away within the last couple of years, this one is hard felt. Anyone who is a gamer should respect the passing of Mr. Hiroshi, a man who ruled with an iron fist and made happen what was said couldn't happen. May his legacy live forever. R.I.P

LtAldoRaine

#99

LtAldoRaine said:

R.I.P,Yamauchi-san. It seems like a huge exaggeration to say that your work changed my life,but the more I think about it,I see it's true.

hydeks

#100

hydeks said:

Very sad news :(

R.I.P., thank you for making Nintendo what the business it is today :)

Platypus101

#101

Platypus101 said:

R.I.P. Yamauchi-san, Thank you for all you've done! Tonight, my family and I will play my arcade port (VC) of DK, then bust out the old N64 and play in his honor...

Relias

#103

Relias said:

Rest in peace sir... you have done the world plenty of good.. and have earned it.. from timeless memories.. to simple fun..you were the man that created Legends.. and you will forever be missed..

Dark_Link

#104

Dark_Link said:

RIP Yamauchi-San!! You did so much for Nintendo and for the entire gaming industry and everyone that plays video games before and now owes you so much for your vision. Playing the NES as a boy in 1987 were some of the greatest moments of my life and I have continued to make new ones with each video game system made today. You will be missed. Thank you for all the memories!!! Life long Nintendo fan since 1987!

KingGanny

#106

KingGanny said:

Good luck in heaven, Mr. Yamauchi. You have done so much. Rest now...you deserve it. Condolences to your family. You lived to a ripe old age.

-Crystalline-

#107

-Crystalline- said:

May your soul rest in peace, Mr. Yamauchi. You've helped shape the way for Nintendo's success, and have accomplished so much.

Thank you.

nicklas2994

#109

nicklas2994 said:

R.I.P. Hiroshi Yamauchi. You will be missed and remembered as a legend. The man that made the gaming industry and Nintendo what it is today.

allav866

#111

allav866 said:

R.I.P. Yamauchi-san. I owe you so much for those cherished memories your company gave to me.

Yosher

#112

Yosher said:

Much respect for this fella. R.I.P., hope you can make up with your father up in heaven, and thank you for shaping up such a wonderful company!

Sanquine

#113

Sanquine said:

R I P , thanks for saving the gaming industry. Without this sir we never had any Nintendo, Sony Or microsoft or any gaming at all.

Ryo_Hazuki-san

#114

Ryo_Hazuki-san said:

He was a true visionary and weill be missed and also appreciated for his contribution to nintendo and the world of gaming.

EVERYONE HELP SHOW YOUR LOVE FOR MR. YAMAUCHI AND GIVE A YEAH AND POST ON MY TRIBUTE MIIVERSE DRAWING. LOOK ME UP ON MIIVERSE MY MIIVERSE NAME IS RYO_HAZUKI-SAN THANKS

Silver_August

#122

Silver_August said:

Though sad, let us take this as a chance to celebrate, for today is also the release date (essentially) of Wind Waker HD, the definitive version of a fantastic game, to you sir! For if it were not for you, we would not have these games to play, I salute thee with highest respects and honor.

Now I sit and wait for the packaged version to hit Canadian retail...

Omarzuqo

#124

Omarzuqo said:

NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!

He was a million times better than Iwata could ever begin to imagine.

Rest in peace.

Datasun_7

#132

Datasun_7 said:

Rest in peace. You will not be forgotten for the impact you have made on the industry and millions of people lives. Thank you

VolcanoFlamesNL

#133

VolcanoFlamesNL said:

Aw. RIP, Yamauchi! Thanks for creating the top of the gaming industry. My prayers go to his family.
Let's honor him by buying the HD version of one of the best games he made, Legend of Zelda Wind Waker.
Satoru Iwata must be very sad...

ecco6t9

#134

ecco6t9 said:

A strong arrogant man, who could blame him since it was his company. But he was what Nintendo needed at the time.

RiP Yamauchi.

BulbasaurusRex

#141

BulbasaurusRex said:

He was also the principal owner of the Seattle Mariners in Major League Baseball. I wonder who takes over ownership of that team.

Cloud-San-VII

#144

Cloud-San-VII said:

Thanks you for all your hard work and determination at Nintendo, and for all of the video game industry really, for all these years.

May his spirit live on in our hearts.
安らかに眠る (Rest In Peace), Yamauchi.

Yoshis_VGM

#146

Yoshis_VGM said:

Thank you so much, Yamauchi-san. You not only made Nintendo what it is today, you also changed the gaming industry forever. Without you, the video game industry would be entirely different. My condolences to you and your family, and may you rest in peace. You will be dearly missed.

gonctorn

#147

gonctorn said:

Rest well in heaven , i can see by the face that he is very tired.
Also i like Nintendo a lot, because of the vision of things they have.
Thanks for everything Hiroshi Yamauchi :)

grimbldoo

#148

grimbldoo said:

MAN1AC and practically everyone else in the comments wrote:

A huge loss for Nintendo and the entire gaming community.

It is sad that he died, but that is an overstatement. He dropped out of the industry before the GameCube's cycle even ended, so it has been running without him for a while. And on top of that, he nearly ran Nintendo into the ground with his decisions. Not to discredit all of the great things this man did (such as bringing Nintendo into the gaming market), but he is not a loss.

Vincent294

#154

Vincent294 said:

Rest in Peace. Your contributions to entertainment, namely gaming, has been unparalleled. The decision to let Miyamoto help make the games left a huge legacy in the gaming world.

Zombie_Barioth

#156

Zombie_Barioth said:

@grimbldoo
There is more to a man's worth than how he ran a company, to say he isn't a loss for any reason is disrespectful. Beyond that, what your saying is because he made mistakes during his career any good he has done is irrelevant.

A man should be remembered for who he is, let him have his legacy. No need to drudge up the past.

JimLad

#157

JimLad said:

Such a great man and president, who has influenced more lives than most people could ever claim. They should think about creating a statue and putting it outside Kyoto HQ.

grimbldoo

#158

grimbldoo said:

@Zombie_Barioth #160
Oh, he is indeed a loss to his family and much more, I agree that saying that no one will miss him is disrespectful, but to the industry? No.
"what your saying is because he made mistakes during his career any good he has done is irrelevant."

grimbldoo wrote:

Not to discredit all of the great things this man did

Thanks for reading.

NintenJoe

#159

NintenJoe said:

RIP Yamauchi-sama. I can just imagine him playing some Super Mario Land with Gumpei Yukoi right now.

Zombie_Barioth

#160

Zombie_Barioth said:

@grimbldoo
I wouldn't say that saying "not to discredit" and "but hes no loss" isn't a bit contradictory and underminding, but then its not like hes been involved in the industry since his retirement so he hasn't exactly done anything either. So in a way your right.

I just think being one of the most important people in the history of the industry, and especially Nintendo, still makes his death a loss is all.

Knux

#162

Knux said:

Without Yamauchi, I wonder if I would have ever gotten into gaming. The SNES, N64, and GameCube came into existence thanks to him, and I can never forget the hours of fun I had with the old Nintendo. Plus he probably affected the entire gaming industry, so I probably owe even my non-Nintendo gaming thanks to him.

He wasn't perfect and made a lot of mistakes (the N64 cartridges and GameCube's discs), but he pretty much made Nintendo...Nintendo. Plus, it was due to one of his ''mistakes'' (turning his back on Sony) that caused the PlayStation to be born (and the Xbox also as a domino effect). And Sonic came into existence because he was designed to compete against Mario.

It's really astounding that one man managed to create so many things in the video game industry. We all owe a lot to him. To say that he was the father of Nintendo and one of the fathers of video gaming wouldn't be exaggerating, because that's how much he has affected us.

RIP, you will be missed. :(

Henmii

#163

Henmii said:

Rest in peace, Yamauchi-San! You have achieved much with Nintendo during your leadership! I hope that mister Iwata will garner the same succes over the years (after all, he has just started)!

"He took the company over as president at the age of 21?!"

He was extremely young there! I guess many people would fail at that age, but not him! Shows that he was really, REALLY STRONG!

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