Thanks to Hawkmoon of the DC Tech Pages Forum for typing up this interview with Bernie Stolar from Game Business Magazine:
Sega of America's President and COO Bernie Stolar has sought to reignite industry enthusiasm for this year's Dreamcast launch.
In a characteristically forthright interview, he told Games Business: "We're on track with the right product at the right price point and we're meeting all our milestones right now. Retail is as excited and enthusiastic as I am about what we're doing".
Stolar spent much of the recent International Toy Fair in New Youk seeking to calm industry nerves about the launch, stirred up by various rumors concerning the company's ability to hit its target of broad distribution before Thanksgiving. The meetings, and subsequent visits to various key retailers, were evidentley successfull.
"I met with a number of retailers," Stolar said "We took those retailers to a company called HMG which is doing all our in-store interactives and all our facings. I will tell you that EB and KB and Best Buy could not be more excited and more enthusiastic about what we are doing".
He picked out KB as one example of retail commitment. "KB was not there for the Saturn launch and now they are back with us. That's a major plus for us. KB has over 3,000 presold units and they have not done any advertising or promotional work. People are just coming in and putting down the money."
He added: "We have solid commitments." Stolar is continuing his work with retailers, paying visits to various chains. "I'm going to see Sears and Babbages this week," he said.
Some senior figures in the industry have expressed private concern to Games Businees at Sega's inability to offer specific marketing plans for the launch. Stolar explained, "I will do it before E3. But I'm going to do it when I feel it's appropriate. Don't forget I didn't have a marketing person in here until about two weeks ago and I'm not about to do that myself. I want people to see that the driving person within the company is doing that. So our plans will be announced before E3. And we will have everything resolved from fixturings to interactives to all our business needs with the retailers before E3." Sega recently hired Peter Moore as senior vice president of marketing.
The question of Dreamcast's online capabilities - and their effect on price - has also been a matter of much industry debate. Stolar made it clear that Dreamcast's killer app of online capabilities would be a major part of the launch.
"We will have an online presence with the modem, I will make official which direction that is going before E3. It's not a matter of confusion. It's a matter of what is going to be profitable for the company. We will have online games and there will be third-party support for online games. There will be a system in the U.S. that has a modem."
This statment can only serve to add credance to those who suspect that Sega is planning to launch two systems into the U.S. market (online capable and stand-alone), with the possibility that it will offer the modem as an additional perifheral to consumers who initially prefer to buy the cheaper stand-alone system.
Stolar also said that partnerships with third-party publishers were going according to plan. "We will have between eight and 12 titles for launch. We will have 20-30 titles by the end of the year, both first party and third party." Companies that have committed include Capcom, Namco, Acclaim, Interplay, and Konami. But, so far, Electronic Arts is not among them. EA and Sega are still negotiating," said Stolar. "That's because EA always wants to do that. EA hasn't been there at the launch of any platform. They weren't there for Playstation. They weren't thre with N64. They will be a partner. It's just a matter of time."