The former Sega Armerica president Bernie Stolar gives new insights why the Dreamcast was shut down after just three years.
Despite its short lifecycle of just over two years, Sega’s Dreamcast was an iconic device. It was the company’s last home console, marking the end of its 18 years in the console market.
It’s been over 20 year’s since Sega decided to discontinue the Dreamcast and restructure itself as a third-party publisher. And still people are talking about why the console was shut down so soon, despite its successfull launch.
Recently, the former Sega America president Bernie Stolar spoke to Polygon about his long career in the gaming industry. The interesting read offers also a new perspective on the Dreamcast’s demise.
Stolar had joined Sega in 1996, after working as executive for its rival Sony, where he helped launch the original PlayStation. During the interview, he constrasts his time at the two companies. As Stolar explains, the Dreamcast had many problems, but its biggest issue was the lack of content. Sega was just not willing to invest money and other ressources to bolster the software library.
“What I think happened was that Nakayama got pushed out by [Sega Chairman] Mr. Isao Okawa,” he explains. “[Okawa] just didn’t understand what the software was supposed to be like, and he didn’t really understand the gaming industry … and he was our biggest shareholder.”
“It was so successful at launch … but the company was just not putting money behind it,” Stolar added. “We had bankers running it.”
Sony on the other hand was too eager to spent money.
“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.”
After all, the Dreamcast was shut down after just three years. In total, the device shifted 9.13 million units worldwide. But Stolar is still proud of the console. “The fact that Dreamcast still is alive in some sort of form, it’s because those players want that software,” he said. “I think they have to really know that if they’re going to come out with a product, it better be fun.”
You can find the whole interview at Polygon.