Visionary video-game businessman Hiroshi Yamauchi has passed away at the age of 85.
Yamauchi led Nintendo for over 50 years and helped the company transition from a gaming card company to one of the biggest players in the video game industry.
He died of pneumonia at a hospital in central Japan, the company said, adding that a funeral will take place on Sunday.
Reputed as a visionary and among the richest men in Japan, Yamauchi made key moves such as employing the talents of Shigeru Miyamoto, a global star of game design and the brainchild of Nintendo hits such as Super Mario and Donkey Kong.
A dropout of the prestigious Waseda University in Tokyo, Yamauchi’s raspy voice and tendency to speak informally in his native Kyoto dialect was a kind of disarming spontaneity rare among Japanese executives.
After being succeeded by President Satoru Iwata at the helm of Nintendo, Yamauchi stayed on as adviser, but his role increasingly diminished with the years.
The company has floundered in the past couple of years, hurt by a strong yen and competition from games on smartphones and tablets.
Yamauchi is survived by Katsuhito Yamauchi, his eldest son. A funeral is scheduled for Sunday at Nintendo, following a wake on Saturday.