Bernard “Bernie” Stolar, a video game executive who oversaw the founding of Sony Computer Entertainment America, as well as the 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 died in his home state of California.
With an acting career spanning from the early 1980s to 1999, Stolar’s career spanned one of the most pivotal eras in the history of the medium, when he served as the top executive for nearly every major players in space.
He began his career in 1980 when he co-founded Pacific Novelty Manufacturing Inc, a coin-op company that served arcades in the state of California. Thereafter, he would work for Atari in its coin-op 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 Crash Bandicoot, Ridge Racer and Spyro the Dragon to the platform, however, controversially, he reportedly enforced a ‘no RPG’ policy during his time at SCEA as the genre was mostly 2D at the time, and therefore not showing off the power of the PlayStation.
After the success of the PlayStation’s first year, Stolar moved to Sega of America where he oversaw the launch of Sega Saturn. Stolar then became Sega of America COO 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 US$199 to a standing ovation during a speech in 1999. However, it later emerged that this furious Japan Sega , which insisted that the console be priced at US$249 to maximize profits.
Prior to the console’s launch in North America, Stolar was fired from Sega and given a $5 million severance package.
“I took the Sega job based on conversations with Hayao Nakayama, who was then president of the company,” Stolar said in a 2015 interview.
“We would institute and bring in a new hardware system that would do online multiplayer games. It became Dreamcast. I directed this.
“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 a fight with Japan. I was kicked out too.”