Former Sega of America CEO Talks Failed Partnership With Sony on New Console 20 Years Ago
Just a few days after Sega announced their downsizing plans at the end of January, Games Industry went to the DICE Summit and sat down with Tom Kalinske, who was the CEO of Sega of America in the early 1990s, eventually leaving in 1996 to work for LeapFrog.
Addressing Sega’s shift from a console manufacturer to software developer after the Dreamcast, Kalinske says the arrival of Sony and Microsoft didn’t necessarily lead to it:
It was not inevitable. It could have been avoided if they had made the right decisions going back literally 20 years ago. But they seem to have made the wrong decisions for 20 years.
In fact, one of the decisions that could have led to Sega staying in the hardware scene was a partnership with Sony. As Kalinske explains, this was ultimately denied, and helped lead to his departure from the company:
One of the key reasons why I left Sega is when we had the opportunity to work with Sony, when [Sony Interactive CEO] Olaf Olafsson, [Sony Corporation of America president and CEO] Mickey Schulhof and I had agreed we were going to do one platform, share the development cost of it, share the probable loss for a couple years on it, but each benefit from the software we could bring to that platform. Of course, in those days, we were much better at software than they were, so I saw this as a huge win. We went to Sony and they agreed, ‘Great idea.’ Whether we called it Sega-Sony or Sony-Sega, who cared? We go to Sega and the board turned it down, which I thought was the stupidest decision ever made in the history of business. And from that moment on, I didn’t feel they were capable of making the correct decisions in Japan any longer.
If the partnership ended up working, what do you think they should have called the console?
[Source: Games Industry]