Hiroshi Yamauchi, architect of Nintendo's video game success, dies aged 85

Hiroshi Yamauchi, former President of Nintendo, has died, aged 85. Far from ‘just another games executive’, Yamauchi was the man responsible for Nintendo’s industry-dominating success in the ‘80s and ‘90s, and indeed, was responsible for Nintendo existing as a video games company in the first place.

When he took over the then 60 year-old playing card company from his grandfather in 1949, it wasn’t long before Yamauchi started to realise the limitations of the business, and was inspired to diversify the company’s output. Disney-branded playing cards quickly followed, as did a succession of eclectic enterprises, including taxis, TV, a chain of ‘love hotels’, and instant rice. In the mid-‘60s, Yamauchi transitioned Nintendo into the toy area, launching a great number of successful products under the design of Gunpei Yokoi, eventual inventor of the Game Boy.

From here, Yamauchi steered Nintendo through the arcade amusement industry, by way of a series of successful light-gun games, and eventually towards video games. Following Nintendo’s role as distributor for the Magnavox Odyssey in Japan, the company started producing arcade games such as Donkey Kong, and from there, the NES. And you know what happened after that.

Although coming in for criticism in his later years, following perceptions of outdated decision-making following the Nintendo 64’s failure to adopt the incoming CD storage format--a move that arguably lost the console a great deal of third-party software support in the face of Sony’s new PlayStation console--Yamauchi was undeniably instrumental in making Nintendo the by-word for video games. Unafraid to push the company into new areas, and possessing an uncanny ability to spot a hit product during development--he personally approved Nintendo’s game designs right into the mid-‘90s--Yamauchi, managing talent like Yokoi and Shigeru Miyamoto, effectively created the company that re-ignited and re-informed the development of an entire medium. 



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  • LordZarlon - September 19, 2013 6:15 p.m.

    Few gaming executives have had the impact of Yamauchi's on the gaming industry. Criticize his later decisions all you want, this industry wouldn't exist if it wasn't for his bravery in the 80's and his fearlessness to bring the NES to America. Don't sell short his taking over the company in a post WW2 Japan. You think our economy is bad, imagine having to recuperate from nuclear holocaust. Rest in peace.
  • FoxdenRacing - September 19, 2013 2:53 p.m.

    Rest in peace, Yamauchi-sama. Gaming as we know it wouldn't exist without you.
  • C.King - September 19, 2013 11:17 a.m.

    chain of love hotels? appreciate the irony of family friendly nintendo love hotels. he was a great man, and pioneer. R.I.P.
  • Vonter - September 19, 2013 10:31 a.m.

    Rest in Peace.
  • J-Fid - September 19, 2013 10:05 a.m.

    Thanks to him, I get to enjoy all of my favorite Nintendo games. Rest in Peace.
  • shawksta - September 19, 2013 9:15 a.m.

    Rest in piece you glorious man, knowing that Iwata is a wonderful successor.
  • Swedish_Chef - September 19, 2013 9:11 a.m.

    (-,_-)7 R.I.P.
  • TokenGamesRadarFurry - September 19, 2013 8:56 a.m.

    Wow...I had JUST finished reading 'Game Over: A History of Nintendo' a couple days back....kind of a tyrant when it came to business, but that's what Nintendo needed when it was taking off. Rest in peace, you glorious bastard.
  • mafyooz - September 19, 2013 7:07 a.m.

    I was always a Sega boy back in the 80s and 90s but everyone who plays video game owes a bit of a debt to Hiroshi Yamauchi, he was certainly one of the pioneers.
  • Shnubby - September 19, 2013 6:43 a.m.

    Without that man we wouldn't have "DO A BARREL ROLL!!". What a legend.
  • Sy87 - September 19, 2013 6:30 a.m.

    Yes may he rest in peace.
  • Talvari - September 19, 2013 6:29 a.m.

    Dang, Rest in Peace.
  • BladedFalcon - September 19, 2013 5:41 a.m.

    May he rest in peace.

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