Former Sony and Sega president Bernie Stolar passes away

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Industry mourns key figure in gaming history

Bernie Stolar, former president of Sony Computer Entertainment America and Sega of America, has passed away. The sad news was first announced by Stolar’s friends before being verified by news outlet Gamesbeat. He was 75.

Stolar, who first entered the video game industry in 1980, had a stellar career that saw him work alongside multiple gaming giants, often being a key figure in the conception, licensing, and release of some landmark hardware. Getting his break with Atari, Stolar would play a key role in the company’s coin-op division, before eventually transitioning to lead developer on the company’s handheld console, Atari Lynx.

Later in the 1990s, Stolar would be a founding member of Sony Computer Entertainment America, operating as vice president within the fledgling company and working as a licensor for the formative catalog of the company’s new PlayStation brand. Stolar is credited with having brought Crash Bandicoot, Ridge Racer, Battle Arena Toshinden, and Spyro the Dragon to the game-changing console.

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Having seen Stolar’s success with the brand, Sega of America brought the Californian native on board to help develop and launch its next major hardware release, Sega Dreamcast. It was during his time as president and COO of Sega that Stolar acquired studio Visual Concepts, eventually leading to the first iteration of the 2K Sports brand — which still exists today under the ownership of Take-Two Interactive.

Having had a hand in the rise of Atari, PlayStation, Dreamcast, and many other recognized lines, Stolar stepped away from the gaming wing of the industry in the mid-’00s, instead choosing to work within marketing companies such as Adscape Media, GetFugu, and Zoom. While perhaps not as recognizable as some of his more media-facing peers, Stolar’s time in the industry was key to the launch of some of the 20th century’s most iconic brands. In particular, the successful launch of Sony PlayStation changed the entire business almost overnight, and Stolar’s role in this cannot be overstated.

We at Destructoid offer our condolences to his family and friends.

Chris Moyse
Senior Editor - Chris has been playing video games since the 1980s. Former Saturday Night Slam Master. Graduated from Galaxy High with honors. Twitter: @ChrisxMoyse