On Thursday afternoon, GameSpot News sat down with Sega of America to discuss the future plans for the company after the departure of Bernie Stolar, the company's former COO. Last night it was made official by Sega of America that Bernie Stolar was no longer with the company, and insiders confirmed he had been terminated as Toshiro Kezuka replaced Mr. Stolar. Our discussion today with Sega's new guardians: Peter Moore, senior vice president of marketing; Chris Gilbert, senior vice president of sales; and Charles Bellfield, director of marketing communications.
GameSpot News: With all of the changes in the upper management at Sega through the course of the year, how does that reflect the stability of the company?
Peter Moore: Most of the changes you've seen have been in regard to us ramping up for the Dreamcast. We hire new people all of the time it seems like not a day goes by around here without someone new. We'll have more new hires and announcements soon.
GSN: Currently, you've got the best hardware but how is Sega going to promote the Dreamcast as the most profitable system to develop for? Ultimately this is what third party developers need to know.
PM: We feel Bernie and Neal Robison did a great job speaking to third parties to get them excited about the Dreamcast. Right now I don't feel promoting our system to the third parties is an issue. Third party support is in place our launch lineup easily proves that. Right now we need to just focus on getting a good installed unit base. That's what the third parties need to see.
GSN: Game developer Working Designs publicly stated that it would not publish games for Sega as long as Stolar was in charge of the company. This morning the company stated that now that he's gone there's a chance they'll bring games to the system. Will you pursue the company as a potential developer?
PM: I'm not too knowledgeable of that company's past history with Bernie and Sega, but it's really their choice whether or not they want to publish on the Dreamcast. They need to decide if the system is right for them.
GSN: What has Sega of Japan's view been on Sega of America's strategy for the Dreamcast launch in the US?
PM: Sega of America's main contact with Japan for the past few months has been Toshiro Kezuka. We keep them very informed of everything going on here, and they have been extremely pleased with our results. Because of this they have been completely staying out of the way.
GSN: Completely staying out of the way?
PM: Yes, they see we're doing a great job with our US Dreamcast strategy and are letting us run with it. It's definitely a good thing.
GSN: And what did they say about the strategy including the recent crashing of Sony's golf event?
PM: Nothing there really wasn't anything to be said. This is a great industry these sort of things are meant to cause a few laughs. The whole prank was done in fun. This is what Sega is all about. I wasn't there, but I hear some Sony guys were laughing about it.
GSN: In a recent interview by trade publication Games Business, Stolar was quoted saying that the Dreamcast was a failure in Japan. Was the Japanese side a little angered by that remark?
PM: I doubt they even saw it. And I doubt they would be angered by it. A good parent company wants results. That's what we're giving them.
GSN: In that same article Bernie takes credit for turning Sega around. Did he?
PM: I think it is reasonable to say that Sega had a great legacy. He did a fabulous job of bringing in and putting together a great team. He also talked to a lot of companies, and credit goes to Bernie for going out and talking to retailers.
GSN: Now about the Dreamcast launch itself. Sega recently announced that the Dreamcast Network will not include network gameplay until later . Wasn't the original intention to have it at launch?
PM: No. It has always been our plan to have the full-fledged network gaming later on. We intended to start things off with e-mail, chat, and downloads. For example, Sonic Adventure will offer uploading and downloading on day one. You can't just offer network gameplay overnight.
GSN: What about the Zip Drive? Naturally that would be needed for full-fledged network capabilities that the Dreamcast could offer. When will that be released?
PM: We really can't say at this time. Right now our main focus is just getting the Dreamcast units out there and supplying games. We don't want to get distracted - we'll focus on those other peripherals later.
GSN: The Neo Geo Pocket Color seems to be taking off (somewhat) in the US now. Are you working with SNK to promote the Dreamcast link cable? (The Dreamcast can interface with the Neo Geo Pocket Color and certain games will be able to share data).
PM: No. Well, we don't rule it out but we haven't made any announcements.
GSN: Before we let you get back to work, we just have to ask one question about the competition you'll be facing in September. Specifically, Sony has two of the year's biggest games slated to go up against the release of the Dreamcast on September 9: Final Fantasy VIII from SquareSoft and Dino Crisis from Capcom. How do you think those will affect the Dreamcast?
PM: All I know is that 9/9/99 is completely owned by Sega. There's no doubt about that. If other companies want to help promote 9/9/99 that is fine they're just helping promote our day for us.