Born in the 1940s, Bernie Stollar first took advantage of the boom in arcade games to found a development company called Pacific Novelty Manufacturing in 1980, which allowed him to be recruited by Atari in the process. Here, Bernie Stolar was moved from arcade to consoles and co-designed the Lynx, the Atari portable console released in 1989.
However, after a few years, the name Bernie Stollar became familiar to players of that time. And for good reason, the man was a co-founder of Sony Computer Entertainment America, and was the vice president at the time of the PlayStation launch. Several iconic games such as Ridge Racer, Battle Arena Toshinden, Crash Bandicoot, Spyro the Dragon or even Oddworld: Abe’s Odyssey have been signed under his supervision. Bernie Stollar targeted 3D games capable of displaying PlayStation’s capabilities, leaving RPG fans who were mostly in 2D and didn’t do well outside of Japan at the time.
As he explained in an interview with GamesBeat journalist Dean Takahashi, the story between Bernie Stollar and PlayStation could have gone on much longer. However, the Japanese management of Sony led to a restructuring led by Shigeo Maruyama (Chairman) and Bernie Stollar saw his comrades fall one by one, starting with Steve Rice, the first president of Sony Computer Entertainment America is remembered for his intervention as short as his effectiveness at E3 1995. Then Bernie Stollar decided to jump into the opposite camp for fear of being fired too.
“I loved working for Sony. I absolutely loved him. I wouldn’t have left Sony if I hadn’t also lived in fear of being fired with anyone else. What happened next is that I got anxious. Everyone was fired. I felt like I was the last survivor. I was offered to become president of Sega of America after Tom Kalinske left“, He says.
He then decided to join the company he himself had helped weaken, Sega, and thus saw Saturn’s sinking from the inside before participating in Operation Last Resort that was the Dreamcast. If the audience remembers Peter Moore better, Bernie Stollar was the head of Sega of America during the launch of the Dreamcast. In this position, he is particularly famous for owning the Visual Concepts studio and creating the 2K Sports label, which will make Take-Two Interactive happy a few years later. Although largely defeated by the PlayStation 2, the Dreamcast was an honorable success in the United States and left many more memories for American players than Saturn.
When I got to Sega, I immediately said: We have to kill Saturn. We have to stop Saturn and start building the next generation. That’s what I did. I cleaned up and brought in a new team of people. There were about 300 employees and I downsized the company to 90 to start rebuilding it.
At Sega, Bernie Stollar repeated the brilliance that Sony had a few years ago in terms of pricing policy when he announced in 1999 that the Dreamcast would sell for just $199. And that’s while Sega Japan management insisted that the machine be sold for $249. Recruited by Hayao Nakayama, Bernie Stolar was asked to leave Sega in December 1999 when he fired his mentor Isao Okawa, Sega’s chairman. He was replaced by Peter Moore, who had himself recruited from Reebok, and then Bernie Stollar joined Mattel, just a few months after the Dreamcast was launched.
Bernie Stollar will remain at Barbie until the end of 2005 before joining the advertising agency Adscape, which will be sold to Google for $23 million. Once he became a Google employee, Bernie Stollar tried to convince the web giant to get into video games, but the end of his career would consist of a series of start-ups. He died at his home in California in June 2022 at the age of 75. “He was one of the most outspoken, honest – and unforgettable – CEOs I’ve met in the gaming industry.Veteran journalist Dean Takahashi testifies.
- Read also | History of the Dreamcast by Oscar Le Maire
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