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Thread: The Dreamcast Junkyard interviewed Bernie Stolar

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    End of line.. Hero of Algol gamevet's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by SegataS View Post
    In Japan, Saturn sold over 5 million. It was a huge hit there. Outside of Japan...what's a Saturn? (Tho I will say as I mentioned before I was very much aware of SS back then as it had a demo station in Toys R Us and my fave game store had an entire rack of US Saturn games) I did not own a Saturn until within the last decade.
    People that read gaming magazines and interact with video games as their hobby would be aware of it. People that casually play video games and buy what their friends are buying wouldn’t know anything about it. And the Saturn’s situation was similar to that of the Dreamcast. It was a success in one region and bombed in the other major regions. Virtua Fighter sold Saturn in Japan and SEGA Sports sold Dreamcast in North America. Still, the Wii U was selling poorly and it was during that time that Nintendo posted its 1st losses as a company.
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    The Future Is Yesterday Hedgehog-in-TrainingRaging in the Streets SegataS's Avatar
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    Yeah outside of the game stores as mentioned I never met anyone at the time with an SS. It was either PS1 or N64. I don't think it was until last gen it seemed that people mostly had more than 1 console as being the rule rather than the exception.



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    Quote Originally Posted by SegataS View Post
    Yeah outside of the game stores as mentioned I never met anyone at the time with an SS. It was either PS1 or N64. I don't think it was until last gen it seemed that people mostly had more than 1 console as being the rule rather than the exception.
    I remember during the 6th generation, I didn't know a single person who had a GameCube, Dreamcast or OG Xbox. Yes, from 2000-2006.
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    Dreamcast maybe. I did network installations at homes and college dorms and I'd see GameCubes and N64s. I'm pretty sure that the OG Xbox saw a lot of LAN parties on college campuses.
    A Black Falcon: no, computer games and video games are NOT the same thing. Video games are on consoles, computer games are on PC. The two kinds of games are different, and have significantly different design styles, distribution methods, and game genre selections. Computer gaming and console (video) gaming are NOT the same thing."



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    Quote Originally Posted by Yharnamresident View Post
    I remember during the 6th generation, I didn't know a single person who had a GameCube, Dreamcast or OG Xbox. Yes, from 2000-2006.
    I knew plenty and sold plenty. Hell in 2007 people was still buying Gamecube and Xbox games a lot where I was. Xbox and games were mainly bought by college kids for as mentioned above LAN parties. Gamecube sold mostly to moms and kids and Mario kart and Sonic games seemed to never stay in the store.



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    Over here the Saturn was very well known, what with the UK being a Sega stronghold and all, but the marketing and buzz for the PS1 was just unprecedented. My best friend and I were all set to upgrade to 32bit with the Saturn but then at the last minute he got a PS1 after being won over by Resident Evil. I followed suit as did most of our friends because, with money being very tight when I was growing up, it made sense for my friends and I to all have the same games system so we could swap games with each other. If I had stuck with the Saturn I would have literally been the only kid I knew who owned one. Compare that to the previous generation of games when we all had Sega Mega Drives!

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    I knew a couple people with N64s. But it terms of 6th gen, where I lived it was complete PS2 territory.
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    I DON'T LIKE POKEMON Hero of Algol j_factor's Avatar
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    I've never been clear on how killing the Saturn so early was done in order to move on to the Dreamcast. There was basically a two year gap in between. I get that they'd had too many platforms and all that. But you don't need to go down to zero. The Dreamcast needed to be their only system going forward; it didn't need the Saturn to have been dead for a long period of time before it came out.

    In any case, regardless of how justified it might seem, I'm not convinced that ditching the Saturn the way they did actually benefited Sega financially to any great degree. They killed the Saturn and lost a bunch of money. How is everyone so sure that his actions eased Sega's losses rather than exacerbating them? It's entirely possible that the whole ordeal in sum cost the company more money than it saved. We'll likely never really know. I do think it's somewhat telling that he decided immediately upon joining Sega that the Saturn needed to be killed. Like he didn't do any real analysis, it was just a gut decision. He doesn't talk about working with an auditor or consulting firm, looking at financial projections, running models on different possible courses of action, etc.

    That also means that he personally decided it in July 1996 (when he joined the company as a VP) though he wasn't actually in charge until March 1997. During the intervening period, the Saturn sold 500,000 units in one month and 1 million units in under six months. Those numbers aren't exactly impressive but they're substantially better than both before and after. Did Bernie make a fresh appraisal when he took the reins? Or did just have his mind made up back in the summer and nothing short of a miracle could've swayed him? It also really sounds like if Bernie had been put in charge right away, the Saturn wouldn't have sold those numbers and it would be an even bigger (and shorter-lived) failure. It would be reasonable to conclude that the Saturn would've been less of a failure without Bernie. Or even if he had been kept in the VP position for another year.


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    Quote Originally Posted by j_factor View Post
    I've never been clear on how killing the Saturn so early was done in order to move on to the Dreamcast. There was basically a two year gap in between. I get that they'd had too many platforms and all that. But you don't need to go down to zero. The Dreamcast needed to be their only system going forward; it didn't need the Saturn to have been dead for a long period of time before it came out.

    In any case, regardless of how justified it might seem, I'm not convinced that ditching the Saturn the way they did actually benefited Sega financially to any great degree. They killed the Saturn and lost a bunch of money. How is everyone so sure that his actions eased Sega's losses rather than exacerbating them? It's entirely possible that the whole ordeal in sum cost the company more money than it saved. We'll likely never really know. I do think it's somewhat telling that he decided immediately upon joining Sega that the Saturn needed to be killed. Like he didn't do any real analysis, it was just a gut decision. He doesn't talk about working with an auditor or consulting firm, looking at financial projections, running models on different possible courses of action, etc.

    That also means that he personally decided it in July 1996 (when he joined the company as a VP) though he wasn't actually in charge until March 1997. During the intervening period, the Saturn sold 500,000 units in one month and 1 million units in under six months. Those numbers aren't exactly impressive but they're substantially better than both before and after. Did Bernie make a fresh appraisal when he took the reins? Or did just have his mind made up back in the summer and nothing short of a miracle could've swayed him? It also really sounds like if Bernie had been put in charge right away, the Saturn wouldn't have sold those numbers and it would be an even bigger (and shorter-lived) failure. It would be reasonable to conclude that the Saturn would've been less of a failure without Bernie. Or even if he had been kept in the VP position for another year.
    They were spending more money than the Saturn was earning for Sega. Just the R&D behind the Netlink did not see a return in sales of the unit and the bundled Netlink Saturn. Sega was packing in 3 games with the Saturn, because they couldn't lower the price of the console any more. They had half the retail space and what places had the console were steadily shrinking its floor space down to make room for the better selling consoles. The Saturn was toast by 1997. A 500k sales boost during the 1996 holiday wasn't making a difference, and it too stalled by March of 1997.
    A Black Falcon: no, computer games and video games are NOT the same thing. Video games are on consoles, computer games are on PC. The two kinds of games are different, and have significantly different design styles, distribution methods, and game genre selections. Computer gaming and console (video) gaming are NOT the same thing."



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    Quote Originally Posted by gamevet View Post
    They were spending more money than the Saturn was earning for Sega. Just the R&D behind the Netlink did not see a return in sales of the unit and the bundled Netlink Saturn. Sega was packing in 3 games with the Saturn, because they couldn't lower the price of the console any more. They had half the retail space and what places had the console were steadily shrinking its floor space down to make room for the better selling consoles. The Saturn was toast by 1997. A 500k sales boost during the 1996 holiday wasn't making a difference, and it too stalled by March of 1997.
    The Netlink didn't sell because it was supposed to be a competitor to WebTV, but WebTV itself was kind of a flop. Many had predicted that it would rapidly gain popularity and spur a whole new market of similar devices. WebTV is more of a punchline today, but there really was tons of hype for it in the industry. It was believed it was going to be crucial to widespread adoption of the internet. In that environment, the Netlink wasn't a bad idea. If WebTV had really taken off like many predicted, the Netlink could've sold systems. The Netlink still provided value to the company, by serving as a sort of test run for the Dreamcast. In any case, the Netlink debuted in October of 1996, so whatever the R&D cost was, that money was already spent.

    Anyway. I'm not saying the Saturn was in a good position. I just think that it sold enough units, and the Dreamcast was far enough away, that there were other options. Look at the Vita, which was in a similar situation with greatly diminished retail presence. Instead of being quickly abandoned, it stuck around, by being refocused to cater towards a core audience. Sega's distinct lack of other products in the meantime was all the more reason to pursue some other course. They basically had nothing at all on the consumer side in 1998. That isn't a good thing.


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    Quote Originally Posted by j_factor View Post
    I've never been clear on how killing the Saturn so early was done in order to move on to the Dreamcast. There was basically a two year gap in between. I get that they'd had too many platforms and all that. But you don't need to go down to zero. The Dreamcast needed to be their only system going forward; it didn't need the Saturn to have been dead for a long period of time before it came out.

    In any case, regardless of how justified it might seem, I'm not convinced that ditching the Saturn the way they did actually benefited Sega financially to any great degree. They killed the Saturn and lost a bunch of money. How is everyone so sure that his actions eased Sega's losses rather than exacerbating them? It's entirely possible that the whole ordeal in sum cost the company more money than it saved. We'll likely never really know. I do think it's somewhat telling that he decided immediately upon joining Sega that the Saturn needed to be killed. Like he didn't do any real analysis, it was just a gut decision. He doesn't talk about working with an auditor or consulting firm, looking at financial projections, running models on different possible courses of action, etc.

    That also means that he personally decided it in July 1996 (when he joined the company as a VP) though he wasn't actually in charge until March 1997. During the intervening period, the Saturn sold 500,000 units in one month and 1 million units in under six months. Those numbers aren't exactly impressive but they're substantially better than both before and after. Did Bernie make a fresh appraisal when he took the reins? Or did just have his mind made up back in the summer and nothing short of a miracle could've swayed him? It also really sounds like if Bernie had been put in charge right away, the Saturn wouldn't have sold those numbers and it would be an even bigger (and shorter-lived) failure. It would be reasonable to conclude that the Saturn would've been less of a failure without Bernie. Or even if he had been kept in the VP position for another year.
    of course they had to turn it down to zero, because whatever few resources sega had, needed to be spent on the dreamcast and development of games on dreamcast. any developed saturn game was another waste of money.

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    Quote Originally Posted by j_factor View Post
    (COMBINED POST)I've never been clear on how killing the Saturn so early was done in order to move on to the Dreamcast. There was basically a two year gap in between. I get that they'd had too many platforms and all that. But you don't need to go down to zero. The Dreamcast needed to be their only system going forward; it didn't need the Saturn to have been dead for a long period of time before it came out.

    In any case, regardless of how justified it might seem, I'm not convinced that ditching the Saturn the way they did actually benefited Sega financially to any great degree. They killed the Saturn and lost a bunch of money. How is everyone so sure that his actions eased Sega's losses rather than exacerbating them? It's entirely possible that the whole ordeal in sum cost the company more money than it saved. We'll likely never really know. I do think it's somewhat telling that he decided immediately upon joining Sega that the Saturn needed to be killed. Like he didn't do any real analysis, it was just a gut decision. He doesn't talk about working with an auditor or consulting firm, looking at financial projections, running models on different possible courses of action, etc.

    That also means that he personally decided it in July 1996 (when he joined the company as a VP) though he wasn't actually in charge until March 1997. During the intervening period, the Saturn sold 500,000 units in one month and 1 million units in under six months. Those numbers aren't exactly impressive but they're substantially better than both before and after. Did Bernie make a fresh appraisal when he took the reins? Or did just have his mind made up back in the summer and nothing short of a miracle could've swayed him? It also really sounds like if Bernie had been put in charge right away, the Saturn wouldn't have sold those numbers and it would be an even bigger (and shorter-lived) failure. It would be reasonable to conclude that the Saturn would've been less of a failure without Bernie. Or even if he had been kept in the VP position for another year.

    The Netlink didn't sell because it was supposed to be a competitor to WebTV, but WebTV itself was kind of a flop. Many had predicted that it would rapidly gain popularity and spur a whole new market of similar devices. WebTV is more of a punchline today, but there really was tons of hype for it in the industry. It was believed it was going to be crucial to widespread adoption of the internet. In that environment, the Netlink wasn't a bad idea. If WebTV had really taken off like many predicted, the Netlink could've sold systems. The Netlink still provided value to the company, by serving as a sort of test run for the Dreamcast. In any case, the Netlink debuted in October of 1996, so whatever the R&D cost was, that money was already spent.

    Anyway. I'm not saying the Saturn was in a good position. I just think that it sold enough units, and the Dreamcast was far enough away, that there were other options. Look at the Vita, which was in a similar situation with greatly diminished retail presence. Instead of being quickly abandoned, it stuck around, by being refocused to cater towards a core audience. Sega's distinct lack of other products in the meantime was all the more reason to pursue some other course. They basically had nothing at all on the consumer side in 1998. That isn't a good thing.
    Thank you for saying all of this, this is exactly what I've been trying to say. Theres so many other poor selling consoles that they didn't just pull the plug on after 3 years. The GameCube, Vita, Wii U, even OG Xbox in Japan. I know many people didn't know the Saturn existed during the 5th gen, but killing it because of that reason seems like a false sense of resolving the problem.

    Quote Originally Posted by bultje112 View Post
    of course they had to turn it down to zero, because whatever few resources sega had, needed to be spent on the dreamcast and development of games on dreamcast. any developed saturn game was another waste of money.
    You know what thats called? putting your eggs in one basket. If the Dreamcast doesn't succeed in bringing back a profit(which it didn't), then Sega is screwed(which it was). I know the Saturn wasn't gonna bring back a profit, but maybe some of those other systems they killed might've.
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    I DON'T LIKE POKEMON Hero of Algol j_factor's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by bultje112 View Post
    of course they had to turn it down to zero, because whatever few resources sega had, needed to be spent on the dreamcast and development of games on dreamcast. any developed saturn game was another waste of money.
    How could they effectively spend their resources on a console well before it existed? They didn't really. Game development isn't really the issue. Sega of America was not hard at work developing a bunch of Dreamcast games. The purchase of Visual Concepts didn't go through until May 1999, and they had no other US-based development in the time leading up to that, not counting Segasoft. Of course they "could" have put out more games by contracting independent studios, but that's not necessary. If anything they should have done that to put out more Genesis games. All they had for 1997 was a few sports games and The Lost World. There was definitely a market there for more than that. Maybe they should've made an NFL 98 for Saturn but that's about it. Genesis was more worthwhile for that because the games could have smaller budgets. Even Game Gear might have been worth releasing a few more games for (beyond, again, The Lost World), because it was even cheaper.
    Last edited by j_factor; 04-04-2018 at 03:45 PM.


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    Quote Originally Posted by j_factor View Post
    I've never been clear on how killing the Saturn so early was done in order to move on to the Dreamcast. There was basically a two year gap in between. I get that they'd had too many platforms and all that. But you don't need to go down to zero. The Dreamcast needed to be their only system going forward; it didn't need the Saturn to have been dead for a long period of time before it came out.

    In any case, regardless of how justified it might seem, I'm not convinced that ditching the Saturn the way they did actually benefited Sega financially to any great degree. They killed the Saturn and lost a bunch of money. How is everyone so sure that his actions eased Sega's losses rather than exacerbating them? It's entirely possible that the whole ordeal in sum cost the company more money than it saved. We'll likely never really know. I do think it's somewhat telling that he decided immediately upon joining Sega that the Saturn needed to be killed. Like he didn't do any real analysis, it was just a gut decision. He doesn't talk about working with an auditor or consulting firm, looking at financial projections, running models on different possible courses of action, etc.

    That also means that he personally decided it in July 1996 (when he joined the company as a VP) though he wasn't actually in charge until March 1997. During the intervening period, the Saturn sold 500,000 units in one month and 1 million units in under six months. Those numbers aren't exactly impressive but they're substantially better than both before and after. Did Bernie make a fresh appraisal when he took the reins? Or did just have his mind made up back in the summer and nothing short of a miracle could've swayed him? It also really sounds like if Bernie had been put in charge right away, the Saturn wouldn't have sold those numbers and it would be an even bigger (and shorter-lived) failure. It would be reasonable to conclude that the Saturn would've been less of a failure without Bernie. Or even if he had been kept in the VP position for another year.
    The Saturn was already in its death throes before Stolar became COO in 1997. It doesn't matter when he made up his mind that the Saturn was doomed - by the time he was in a position of power, it was already over. Between March 1997 (when Stolar became COO) and September 1997, the Saturn sold 50,000 units (source). He made his infamous comment "Saturn is not our future" at the end of June 1997, when clearly the Saturn was done for. Nothing he could have done would have changed the situation. Sega did manage to sell 1 million units in NA in 1996, but that was only by packing in 3 of their top titles and lowering the price of the console and the games.

    In 1997, sales were stagnant, there were few 3rd party publishers interested in the system and a meager release lineup, and Sega was bleeding money from Sega of America. Together with that, there was a massive restructuring with Nakayama out in Japan and a shift towards cutting losses.

    Stolar was in the unfortunate position of taking charge of a burning ship, and not surprisingly Sega fans have always focused on him as an easy target for the failure of the Saturn. But the unanswered question is: What specifically did Stolar do that caused the Saturn to fail? It's hard to see how that can be answered unless he had a time machine.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Yharnamresident View Post
    Thank you for saying all of this, this is exactly what I've been trying to say. Theres so many other poor selling consoles that they didn't just pull the plug on after 3 years. The GameCube, Vita, Wii U, even OG Xbox in Japan. I know many people didn't know the Saturn existed during the 5th gen, but killing it because of that reason seems like a false sense of resolving the problem.
    This is kind of a different scenario because Nintendo and MS had gobs of money in reserve, as well as high revenue from other streams (Game Boy, Windows, etc.) and could absorb the loss a lot longer than Sega could.

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