Satoru Iwata

Nintendo president Satoru Iwata passed away on July 11 at the age of 55, due to a bile duct growth. His sudden passing is hitting the gaming industry hard today, and numerous Microsoft Xbox executives are paying their respects to Iwata on Twitter.

Iwata joined Nintendo in the 1980s and worked his way through the ranks before being appointed as president in May 2002. He helped to lead Nintendo as it launched its highly successful Wii console in 2005, as well as handheld consoles like the Nintendo DS. Iwata was later named CEO of Nintendo of America in June 2013.

Microsoft's Xbox leader Phil Spencer had this to say on Iwata's passing:

"Sad day for Iwata-san's family, friends, and gamers everywhere. His passion, creativity & leadership elevated our industry."

Microsoft's first and third-party Xbox marketing head Aaron Greenberg posted a black-and-white image of a flag flying at half-mast in Super Mario World to show his respects to Iwata;

Nintendo Half Mast

Larry "Major Nelson" Hryb, the long-time head of Xbox Live programming at Microsoft, had this to say about Iwata:

"I had the chance to meet Iwata-san at E3 one year, and he was such a gentleman as I fan boyed out. Today the industry lost a huge force."

Ken Lobb, who worked at Nintendo from 1994 to 2001 before joining Microsoft's Xbox team, remembered Iwata today:

"First time I met Mr. Iwata, I was on a visit to NCL, he was this crazy excited young guy who ran HAL. Super nice, and a great dev. I'm sad:("

"Loved Mr. Iwata's quote. President as title, game dev's mind, gamers heart. Where's the tissue, I need it. Honestly."

Source: Phil Spencer, Aaron Greenberg, Larry Hryb, Ken Lobb (Twitter)