"[The Dreamcast] was so successful at launch ... but the company was just not putting money behind it. We had bankers running it."
- former Sega of America CEO Bernie Stolar, speaking to Polygon about the life and death of the Dreamcast.
The Sega Dreamcast has been dead and buried for nearly two decades, but people are still talking about it.
Among them is veteran game industry exec and former Sega of America boss Bernie Stolar, who recently spoke to Polygon about some of the choicest bits of his career in games.
It's an interesting read because, as Stolar points out, he joined Sega in 1996 after working as a high-level executive for top rival Sony, where he helped launch the original PlayStation. In the course of the feature he contrasts his time at the two companies (as well as a prior stint at Atari) and the big takeaway appears to be that Sony was more willing than Sega to put money and other resources into bolstering the software library of its hardware.
"Sony was willing to spend the money to do this,” said Stolar. In fact, they were reportedly too willing; he added that “Sony Japan wanted me to approve all this software that was being delivered by all third parties. Whatever the software was, I should just approve it. I said, "This is not a record company where you make an album and it's hit or miss. Here, if it's not visually attractive it's not going to sell, period."
But when Stolar got to Sega of America, he seems to have encountered the opposite problem -- after restructuring the organization and hiring on ex-game industry exec Peter Moore, Stolar says shifts in Sega's corporate structure hurt his ability to get games onto the Dreamcast.
"What I think happened was that [Sega CEO Hayao] Nakayama got pushed out by [Sega Chairman] Mr. Isao Okawa. [Okawa] just didn’t understand what the software was supposed to be like, and he didn’t really understand the gaming industry," Stolar told Polygon. "[The Dreamcast] was so successful at launch ... but the company was just not putting money behind it."
It's an interesting bit of perspective, one you can get more of in the full Polygon feature.