Iwata Satoru, the hugely popular president of Japanese games giant Nintendo, has died of cancer, age 55.

The company issued a notice reporting that Iwata died on Saturday as a result of a bile duct growth.

He joined Nintendo in the 1980s as a programmer. In 2000 he became a board director and became president in 2002.

In his time at the top he oversaw some of the company’s best products: the Wii and the DS, as well as less successful introductions, the GameCube and the Wii U.

Twice in recent years, Iwata took pay cuts as the company reported losses, and recently he attempted to steer the company away from its dependence on consoles. That policy seemed to be bearing fruit, and the company expects a major jump in profitability thanks to new smartphone gaming.