Born in the 1940s, Bernie Stolar first took advantage of the boom in arcade games to find a development company called Pacific Novelty Manufacturing in the 1980s, which allowed him to be recruited by Atari in the process. Here, Bernie Stolar moved from arcade to consoles and participated in the design of the Lynx, Atari’s portable console released in 1989.
However, a few years later the name Bernie Stolar became familiar to players of the time. And for good reason, the man was one of the founders of Sony Computer Entertainment America, where he was vice president at the time of the PlayStation launch. Many emblematic games like Ridge Racer, Battle Arena Toshinden, Crash Bandicoot, Spyro the Dragon or even Oddworld: Abe’s Odyssey have been signed under his direction. Bernie Stolar focused on 3D games that could showcase the capabilities of the PlayStation, leaving RPG enthusiasts who were previously always in 2D and didn’t achieve strong commercial performances outside of Japan at the time. .
As he explained in an interview with GamesBeat reporter Dean Takahashi, the story between Bernie Stolar and PlayStation could go on and on. However, Sony’s Japanese management is pushing for a change led by Shigeo Maruyama (chairman of the board of directors) and Bernie Stolar has seen his teammates fall in line, starting with Steve Race, the first president of Sony Computer Entertainment America. remembered for his intervention as brief as it was effective at E3 1995. Bernie Stolar then decided to jump into camp opposite for fear of being ejected as well.
“I love working at Sony. I really like it. I wouldn’t have left Sony if I hadn’t lived in fear of being fired with everyone. The next thing happened because I was worried. Everyone was fired. I felt like I was the last survivor. I was offered to be president of Sega of America after Tom Kalinske left“, he said.
He then decided to join the company that he himself had helped weaken, Sega, and so saw the sinking of Saturn from the inside before joining the final operation which was the Dreamcast. If the public will remember Peter Moore, Bernie Stolar was president of Sega of America during the launch of the Dreamcast. In this position, he is known for owning the Visual Concepts studio and creating the 2K Sports label, which pleased Take-Two Interactive a few years ago. Even though most were beaten by the PlayStation 2, the Dreamcast made a majestic run in the United States and left far more memories for American gamers than Saturn.
When I got to Sega, I immediately said: We have to kill Saturn. We need to stop Saturn and start building the next generation. That’s what I did. I cleaned up and brought in a new group of people. There were about 300 employees and I downgraded the company to 90 employees to start it all over again.
At Sega, Bernie Stolar reiterated the light that Sony had achieved a few years ago in terms of pricing policy when he announced to acclaim in 1999 that the Dreamcast would sell for only $ 199. And this is while Sega Japan management insisted that the machine be sold for 249 dollars. Recruited by Hayao Nakayama, Bernie Stolar was asked to leave Sega in December 1999 when his mentor was pushed by Isao Okawa, chairman of Sega’s board of directors. Replaced by Peter Moore, who himself recruited from Reebok, Bernie Stolar then joined Mattel, just months after the release of the Dreamcast.
Bernie Stolar would remain with Barbie until the end of 2005 before joining advertising agency Adscape to be sold to Google for $ 23 million. Formerly a Google employee, Bernie Stolar tried to convince the web giant to get into video games, but the end of his career could be a series of beginnings. He died at his home in California in June 2022 at the age of 75. “He was one of the most straightforward and honest – and memorable – executives I have ever met in the gambling industry.“, testified veteran journalist Dean Takahashi.
- Read also | The History of Oscar Lemaire’s Dreamcast