Bernie Stolar, former president of Sega of America and founder of SCEA, has died at the age of 75

Bernard “Bernie” Stolar, a video game executive who oversaw the founding of Sony Computer Entertainment America, as well as serving as president of Sega of America, has died at the age of 75.

As reported by GamesBeat, and verified in messages sent to the publication by Stolar’s friends, the businessman passed away in his home state of California.

With a gaming career that spanned from the early 1980s to 1999, Stolar’s career spanned one of the most pivotal eras in the medium’s history, when he served as a senior executive for nearly every major player. in the space.

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He began his career in 1980 when he co-founded Pacific Novelty Manufacturing Inc, an arcade company that offered arcades throughout the state of California. After this, he would go on to work for Atari in their slot machine division, before being transferred to the company’s home console division.

He would oversee the Atari Lynx before being recruited by Sony as one of the founding members and first president of Sony Computer Entertainment America.

Stolar was instrumental in signing the likes of Crash Bandicoot, Ridge Racer, and Spyro the Dragon to the platform, however, controversially, he reportedly enforced a “no role-playing” policy during his time at SCEA due to the genre was mostly 2D at the time. , and thus not show the power of the PlayStation.

Following the successful first year of PlayStation, Stolar moved to Sega of America, where he oversaw the launch of the Sega Saturn. Stolar subsequently became Sega of America’s chief operating officer in March 1997 and president the following year.

Stolar’s most famous moment came when he announced that the Sega Dreamcast would be priced at $199 USD to a standing ovation during a speech in 1999. However, it later emerged that this angered Japan’s Sega, who insisted that the console had a price. at $249 USD to maximize earnings.

Prior to the console’s release in North America, Stolar was fired from Sega and received a $5 million severance package.

“I took over the Sega position based on conversations with Hayao Nakayama, who was the company’s president at the time,” Stolar said in a 2015 interview.

“We would institute and bring in a new hardware system that would do multiplayer games online. That became the Dreamcast. I directed that up.

“Unfortunately, Nakayama was kicked out of the company by Mr. Okawa at the end of 1999, and when he was kicked out, I also had an argument with Japan. I was expelled too.”