Bandai Namco has announced in a press release today that Masaya Nakamura, the founder of Namco, passed away on January 22, 2017.
Nakamura (born December 24, 1925) was a Japanese businessman who started Namco (originally Nakamura Manufacturing) as a manufacturer of amusement rides. Under Nakamura’s guidance and business smarts, Namco grew in to the third largest video game developing company in Japan during the 1970s and ’80s. He encouraged and grew the company’s arcade game division, which turned out to not only be a brilliant idea, but also a smashing success; Nakamura gave us such wonderful titles as Dig Dug and Pac-Man (which remains the highest grossing arcade game worldwide). With Masaya’s tutelage, heavy investment was brought by the company in to console and handheld gaming at its earlier stages – another brilliant strategy with large successes such as the fighting game Tekken.
Mayasa Nakamura was CEO of his company until 2002, when he stepped down to a more ceremonial role. In 2005, his company merged with Bandai to form Bandai Namco, where he retained an honory position in its entertainment branch, Bandai Namco Entertainment.
In 2007, Nakamura was honored by the Japanese government by being awarded the “Order of the Rising Sun, Gold Rays with Rosette” during the Spring Conferment of Decorations, in recognition of his tremendous contributions to Japanese industry. He was also inducted in to the International Video Game Hall of Fame in August 2010.
Masaya Nakamura was a forerunner and champion of the video game industry for decades, and it is indeed extremely sad to see him gone. His legacy and passion for the industry shall carry on in the hearts of developers everywhere; his games and other creations will continue to delight children and adults of all ages for years to come.
Bandai Namco plans to offer a public memorial service to honor Nakamura.