8.13: More reaction from Toothfairy of the DC Tech Pages MB:
“Kezuka’s knowledge of the European and Japanese markets make him the ideal COO for Sega. He will help improve Sega become a more global company.”
That’s according to a Sega spokesperson. Uh? What does knowledge of the European and Japanese market have to do with being the ideal COO for the American market? Another indication that this is merely a managerdrone. And that Sega thinks that the worldwide videogame market can be conquered by becoming a monolith.
If I’d be a developer, both things would make me very seriously consider waiting to see whether the DC will be a success. Which, seeing as it is a self-fulfilling prophecy, is a sure-fire way to see it fail.
Tiger: What I was trying to say is that major corporations don’t just fire their chairman for no good reason. That is for the most part. We may never really know why but Sega would not just replace a CEO because they didn’t like him or they just wanted to be unfair. More than likely people have to do something very bad in order to get fired. So my point is, none of us know why he was let go but there probably was a darn good reason so please stop assuming he is Mother Teresa because there was more than likely some bad stuff going on behind the scenes.
RZA: I feel kind of less enthusiastic about the US DC after this firing, and after reading this thread I see people are losing some confidence in the US DC just like I thought. SOJ messed up bad by firing Bernie, the man was leading the way and a lot of people were behind him; gamers, retailers, the press. I could you not like this guy, he personally answered his email- even answered one of mine once recently.
The final one comes from Green Gibbon! on the NGHZ Board: It’s about more than just Bernie’s capabilities. The timing is more shocking than anything else. Why now, less than a month before the big move? I mean, Bernie’s the brains behind the US DC launch, and judging from the hype that’s surrounding Dreamcast right now, the man knows his work. The fact that he was doing such a great job just adds even more mystery and shock value to the pop decision. If Sega ousted him, that’s bad. If he resigned of his own will, that’s even worse. The ramifications of such a sudden and major decision can’t be good. It’s too early to say what the outcome will be, but the reasons behind it have GOT to be bad news. I just can’t perceive it any other way.
There is more to come…
8.12: I’ve searched near and far for reaction to this turn of events, and I have found a lot. Let’s start with Sega X’s MBs:
quest: I am disgusted. Bernie is the man who was about to save Sega. This is a man who fought tooth and nail to get us a 56k modem. This is the man who worked day and night to get 3rd party developers back on board. He is the man who worked his tail off to get the retailers trust back after the Saturn. This is the man who was to pull of the launch every industry expert said was impossible. How many reports and industry experts said Sega was dead and should throw in the towel after the PSY specs were revealed. His cocky different thinking attitude rubbed off on the company. He was about to bring back the Sega of old a company with a attitude. Now Sega is going to bring in a person who will probably do things like Sega did with the Saturn. The only person with the drive, smarts and personality to take on Sony head on with clearly inferior hardware is gone. WAY TO GO SEGA you reward the person who is responsible for the biggest launch in US history with a pink slip. FYI the Saturn was DOA on arrival in the US. It had a horrible launch and never recovered.
AGEMO: Bernie may have done some things right, but there is also no denying that he has done many things wrong. The Saturn died during his reign, so he has to bear the blame for the Saturn’s death. As for him getting developers back on the Sega ship, let us not forget that many of these same developers were drove away by Mr. Bernie himself in the first place. Personally, I think Sega will do just fine without him. The new CEO should know better to secure the third party licenses. Besides, these third party developers are here not because of Bernie, but because they sense an opportunity with the DC machine. As long as the sale is good, the developers will stay on, with or without Bernie. Hey, who knows, maybe we can finally get Working Design back onto the Sega side…..
Zero2Dash: Na na na na…na na na na…OH HELL YEAH…goodbye.
I do believe he pulled a Nixon…he got caught and he quit because of it.
I surely won’t miss this moron. He’s self-centered and full of himself and Sega doesn’t need him. Sega of America is better off without him.
To all you people saying he did a great job…WHAT DID HE DO THAT SEGA OF JAPAN HASN’T DONE FIRST?
All the LAUNCH GAMES IN THE US came out and sold well IN JAPAN first, didn’t they? Yes. Did he do anything they didn’t? Well he decided to run some stupid commercials, that’s about it. He took other people’s ideas and copied them then took full credit for being a copycat. I find no reason to call that “a good job”.
Onto the Seganet BBs and Snake: This is very distressing news, to me in particular! I am a huge Bernie Stolar supporter and fan, and now this just blows! Bernie had the perfect vision for Dreamcast and America, and Sega of Japan *was* *expletive* up…but he is too outspoken, and said the wrong things (“Saturn in not our Future”). This isn’t very good, because I was loving the Bernie Stolar SoA. I’m not happy.
I can see why Sega fired him, but I don’t understand why Sega would want to fire him, he was doing everything perfect. Ok, so he said a few questionable words about his “higher-ups”, but he had everything going very well. Leadership changes never help…but hell, Sony survived quiet well, so we can only hope that this doesn’t affect the direction Sega was headed, is headed, which is a great direction!
And you know something? Screw Working Designs. *expletive*’um. I hate Victor Ireland. He is the biggest *expletive* this side of our President. He is like a rabid Sony fan, so *expletive* immature. With quotes like “Besides them being stupid” (when commenting on why Sega wasn’t making an official Light Gun for Dreamcast), he just proves over and over how childish he is, and how “stupid” he is. Don’t get me started on that *expletive*!
On to the DC Tech Pages Board, and Toothfairy: All in all, management in Japan was most likely infuriated by the comment that the DC was a failure in Japan and that the US (i.e., him) will bring Sega back to the front. I was surprised that he made that comment in the first place. From what I know from Japan, this is exactly the kind of stuff that gets you fired – disrespect.
Unfortunately, I also agree with quite a few people that Stolar’s disrespect of the status quo was exactly what got SoA where it is now: full of hype, and ready for a great launch. They will sorely miss Stolar. Kezuya will be what top brass in Japan, but what Sega needs the least: A “yes sir!” man with little clue as to how the American market works.
One of the reasons I was excited about Stolar was because he gave everybody the impression that he would rather die than see the DC fail. He was enthusiastic about it, he didn’t pull any punches when it came to addressing flaws, and he did things that needed to be done.
My prognosis for Sega from now on: bad. Very bad. As others pointed out, you can’t run an American operation from Japan; the same applies for the other way around. Third-party development in the US is going to be VERY suspicious of anything that comes from both SoJ and SoA – who knows what else they’ll change when they just suddenly threw out the guy who pretty much engineered this launch? This sounds very much like the Sega from the Saturn days. Furthermore, it is a definite sign that top brass in Japan is more interested in getting rubbed right instead of making a successful game machine. If I would be a third-party sitting on the fence, I’d certainly put any and all projects for DC on hold. With management this insensitive to American economic realities, I certainly do not expect them to come up with anything good in the near future.
I said it once, I’ll say it again. This is bad. If Sega (both SoA and SoJ) do not DO (not say) things that make it clear that they are as gung-ho as Stolar about making DC a success, Sega WILL fail this generation. And that means making Kezuka into more than just “an interface man.” Most importantly, I’d make sure that any doubts or complaints that any developer has about this move is taken extremely seriously.
Sega, if you are listening, this was not a good move. I unfortunately do not know enough to offer concrete steps on how to keep the DC on track. But one thing I know: do not let this become a Japanese takeover of SoA. It doesn’t work. As little as Americans know about Japan, Japanese know little about America. You can’t be successful by letting corporate HQ run operations in both countries.
Stormfan: Well, let’s not completely demonize SoJ execs, at least not yet. With a story this big, I’m sure some info has GOT to leak eventually. Hopefully we’ll have a better idea of SoJ reasoning by the end of the week.
Anyhow, I’m still optimistic about the DC. Sega already has a strong launch no matter what happens, and the *games* should keep the momentum going, regardless of who’s COO.
Toothfairy again: From what I know of Japan, political decisions play a big role in who gets hired/promoted/fired. So I wouldn’t be the least surprised to find out that SoJ figured Stolar had done the hard work, and that they don’t need his brashness anymore. I guess you are right when you say that they think they can more or less cruise on auto-pilot from now on.
Concerning the qualification of Kezuka as puppet: anytime someone gets put into a position primarily because he will provide a great interface screams puppet to me. And since Honda has very little presence in France, I can also imagine that one of his primary roles there was that of an “interfacer.”
AlanDang: …I don’t think it was the disrespect for Sega of Japan that was the problem, but instead disrespect toward Sony.
I don’t like to talk about other people’s misfortunes, but I think it’s important to point out a few things. According to Videogames.com, on Monday, Sony Computer Entertainment of America held an executive golf tournament. This event was thrown by key Sony executives including Phil Harrison (whom I had the chance to meet up at Stanford), Vice President of Third Party Relations and Research and Development for SCEA. In attendance were several third party developers and members of the press. At this tournament was also an uninvited Sega.
According to Videogames.com, “Sega crashed Sony’s party by having the golf course rigged with several golf balls sporting the Dreamcast logo. In addition, Sega had someone dressed up as Sonic the Hedgehog (the company’s mascot) to parade around the course and parking lot. And if that didn’t distract Sony and its third party developers enough, perhaps the plane flying around all afternoon displaying a “Sega Dreamcast 9-9-99”
This happened in California… although I am merely speculating, I would believe that it is a top-executive at Sega of America who authorized the prank or even came up with the idea rather than a rich Sega fan.
In light of the abrupt departure of Bernie Stolar from Sega, one can infer that he was behind Monday’s stunt, or at least involved.
Despite the competitive nature between Sega and Sony, both companies have shown each other their new products, prior to public presentations. They have a very professional relationship with each other. I guess they really do think there is enough room for two big gorillas.
Now, if this is a hoax, then here’s a warning from bigwave dave:
If this is a hoax then they could be in a lot of trouble with the SEC because SOA is a publicly traded company…and they could be accused of stock manipulation.
Finally, from The Sonic Zone’s webmaster, Suneet Shah;
I have yet to post anything about Mr. Stolar leaving the company, and I will do so now.
I too feel saddened that he is leaving. I actually wasn’t aware at how big of a part he played in this launch, and after reading everyone’s comments I can say that I feel just like the rest of you do.
However, I have something else to say that no one else has yet touched upon. The person replacing Bernie Stolar is going to be in the spotlight now. Think about it. If they fired Bernie for what appears to be very small things, they actually fired him for being good, don’t they have to do the same thing with this new person? I think to be fair they would have to be more strict on this guy, because he hasn’t done what Mr. Stolar has done.
One wrong move could cost him his career, but I don’t know because if Mr. Stolar was fired, I really don’t think it was done in a fair way. We’ve all added up the pro’s, and the con’s (What cons?) and they are not equal. It’s a one-sided argument. Why is Bernie not there anymore? I am still confused. =P
My point here is about the person replacing him. If he makes one wrong move, should he be replaced as well? What are the terms of this? What really happened to Mr. Stolar?
It’s also worth noting that because of this decision, some people will refrain from buying the American DC. You can find more reaction stories that I’ve written at Sonic HQ News. Stay here for the latest.
This post was originally written for TSSZ News.