Bernie Stolar, one of the most important video game executives of the 1990s, has died at the age of 75. gamesbeat reports.
Stolar began working in the video game business in 1980, initially starting a coin company before joining Atari, where he did everything from working on their arcade games, to their later home console efforts, to all things leading the development of Lynx , Atari’s infamous handheld device.
He then moved to Sony, where he helped found the Americas division of the company’s PlayStation brand as the company’s first executive vice president. During his time at Sony, his greatest accomplishment was setting up a number of studios and properties for the PlayStation’s early game library and building relationships that in many cases will last into 2022 – inclusive Ridge Racer, Crash Bandicoot and Spyro.
After the launch of the PlayStation, Stolar switched to competitor Sega, where he didn’t mess around. As gamesbeat
“When I got to Sega, I immediately said, ‘We have to kill Saturn. We must stop Saturn and start building the new technology.’ That’s what I did. I brought in a new team of people and cleaned the house. There were about 300 employees and I reduced the company to 90 employees to start rebuilding,” Stolar said.
While making another visionary long-term commitment with Sega Stolar, he bought a studio called Visual Concepts, which would later become 2K Sports, and which continues to publish NBA 2K
Stolar’s career after the ’90s was marked by stints at Mattel (where he pushed the company to double production of Barbie video games) and Google, where he served as the company’s first-ever “Games Evangelist,” a position he tried to use to promote the idea of a streaming games service, something the company rejected at the time and then…would revisit a decade later, long after Stolar left before he completely screwed it up.