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Tom Kalinske Explains Why He Left Sega Of America - Time Extension

Discussion in 'General Sega Discussion' started by jubbalub, Dec 4, 2022.

  1. jubbalub

    jubbalub

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  2. Well that's... huh. Maybe I'm being too skeptical, but this reads like Kalinske making excuses? "Oh yeah my boss was rough on the Japanese staff because of my success and that's why they hated me." I feel like we're missing something here but I can't place my finger on what.
     
  3. Turbohog

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    I have a hard time believing much of what Kalinske says. He's always taking a lot of credit and talking himself up.
     
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  4. Gryson

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    Sega of America essentially went bankrupt under Kalinske's leadership. If you know anything about how CEOs operate, it won't surprise you that he takes all credit for the company's successes and passes off all blame for its failures.

    SOA had a LOT of very costly failures during the time. Most people don't realize the company was bleeding money like crazy and barely broke even in 1994, well before the Saturn came out.

    Many in Japan saw Kalinske as the cause of the problem, especially when he convinced Nakayama to let SOA develop and release the 32X (Kalinske puts the blame on Joe Miller, however).

    I have an entire thread with this kind of info that I recommend reading:

    https://www.sega-16.com/forum/showt...as-allowed-to-resign-w-o-taking-blame-for-32X

    It's very hard to make a list of SOA's successes during the time that doesn't only include marketing Sonic games and producing some good 2nd party games.
     
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  5. The man is a pure and proven lair, that takes credit for the EA & Sonic even though they were all signed off before he even joined SEGA. He made a terrible call with the 32X, he miss managed both the STI and Multi-Media studios, allowed Sonic to a train wreck on the Saturn/32X. peed so much money down the drain and unlike what he says, the May Saturn date was not forced on him and SEGA did not kill off the Mega Drive early. I wish he just owned up and said he thought the 32X would win, due to price alone, be he can't and look to blame SOJ.

    Nakayama-san was SEGA to the Core and did more for SEGA than any other individual and when he stepped down (the real reason why Kalinske walked) was when the SEGA that I loved started to die a little and why no doubt GameArts, Treasure looked to go 3rd party and why the likes of Ohshima and Ishii looked to leave SEGA.
     
  6. saxman

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    The berating of staff at SoJ isn't a new claim, but I'm not sure I ever heard the "physical" aspect of it before. That's rather interesting.

    But regarding the replies thus far... a big part of me wants to avoid this discussion with a ten-foot pole, because I just don't feel like having the back-and-forth. But one little detail is nagging me that's not even being considered. So I'll throw it out there like a bone thrown to dogs, and I'll most likely sit back and just watch.

    Part of Japan's clamping down on SoA may have been financial in part, but I'd say investing in the future is costly, and sometimes you lose money in the short-term. One might point to a series of decisions out of Japan as contributing to the 32X's "costly mistake" status it holds today. What if they let Kalinske continue to do as he wanted? They might not have had quite as much red in the years ahead.

    I feel the argument you're using in support of SoJ isn't considering the double-edge sword nature of intervening to begin with.
     
  7. It would have been better if SEGA was more like NCL and Nintendo America basically had to do anything the Japanese side said. All that said, Sega Japan made a few terrible mistakes and cock up's and you can't all blame it on SOA. There were the ones who 1st looked to expand the life of the MD and wanted a answer to the Jaguar, never mandated Sonic Team to develope Sonic X-treme and to release Daytona USA on the Saturn with those graphics, was totally unacceptable, never mind the early poor tools for Saturn or also releasing Victory Goal, Clockworknight before they were finished.
     
  8. Overlord

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    Kalinske wanted the 32X and thought it was preferable to the Saturn. That alone should be enough to realise he isn't the faultless CEO he makes himself out to be.
     
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  9. Londinium

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    CEOs lie about their experience working for a company? You really think someone would do that!?
     
  10. SuperSnoopy

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    You really think someone would do that? Just go on the Internet and tell lies?
     
  11. Gryson

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    The facts just don't line up with what you're saying. SOA wasn't just losing money, it essentially went bankrupt and had to be bailed out. They fired 90% of their staff, beginning before the Saturn was released. The sudden collapse of the 16-bit market in 1994 completely caught them off guard and unprepared. They invested tens of millions into things that had little to no payoff: Sega VR, Sega Midwest, Sega Multimedia Studio, STI, etc. And then there's the 32X, which came about solely due to Kalinske's refusal to market the Saturn due to high production costs (we now know the PlayStation also had those high production costs, and both companies would decide to just take a heavy loss on the hardware to keep prices down).

    Also worth mentioning is that SOA-produced software was getting trounced by 3rd parties like Acclaim and EA according to sales charts. Kalinske went all-in on licensed titles (I imagine because this is a successful strategy in the toy business), but the market for licensed video games vanished incredibly fast and SOA was left with few strong original titles.

    There was no "long game" here, no grand plan to dominate the business. Kalinske had initial success pumping lots of money into marketing a killer game out of Japan (Sonic). Most of Kalinske's decisions after that failed to pan out and brought the company down.
     
  12. Black Squirrel

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    It seems plausible to me, though it only paints half a picture - Kalinske was riding high in the early 90s, which is when Japanese resentment would have grown, and yet, the man was allowed to do his job until September 1996, well after SoA's peak. That suggests to me interference was less of a personal thing and more of a "America's bleeding money" issue, as mentioned. Otherwise why not interfere before?

    And we've seen the Neptunes and Plutos and the countless failed video game projects - you can see why Japan would want to rein that in. We also know a successor wasn't chosen for ages, which again, suggests it's not just Kalinske at fault, it's Sega of America's entire management structure and none of them can be trusted.
     
  13. Deathscythe

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    *Something goes right for SEGA*

    Yup, that was me, all me!

    *Something goes wrong for SEGA*

    Uh, you see, that was the other people's fault!

    Typical bussinessman PR talk.
     
  14. Gryson

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    The idea of Japanese staff being resentful of SOA's success is a bit ridiculous, though. Read the old Harmony issues or newspaper articles and one thing is clear: Japanese management was FULL of praise for the Mega Drive's success overseas. I mean, SOA was a daughter company, so any success it had translated to success for the parent company. I also suspect Japan had far more staff working in overseas support roles than domestic support roles. SOA's early success caused the value of Sega's stock to skyrocket, and everyone was celebrating.

    Kalinske has created this "resentment" narrative after the fact because it provides a convenient reason why Nakayama made him launch the Saturn. That lets him avoid having to talk about the 32X and the heavy loss in revenue that began in 1993.
     
  15. Deathscythe

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    How responsible was Kalinske for the success of the Sega Genesis?

    From my understanding the EA Sports games helped put Genesis on the map even before Kalinske or Sonic.
     
  16. Ted618

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    Having to link this for what must be the umpteenth time now, but They Create Worlds' specific podcast episode on much of this period, "Dreams of Sega", is likely the best English summarisation of most of the best quality sources available so far. And it'll hopefully be covered in print if the other book volumes ever come out.

    TL:DL - there was a whole new layer of middle management added after Kalinske first started, Sega of America of course started falling to pieces much earlier than many realise, and Sega simply weren't big enough to take the inevitable financial hits from mass-manufacturing consoles like a Sony could. At the end of the day, they had only recently made huge growth, and the deep coin-op roots that stayed with them (unlike Nintendo's) weren't strong enough support.

    I will say that some of the new middle management names it mentions had already been at Sega since the 1980s e.g. Tokuzo Komai, and Mitsuo Wachi from Ito-Yokado who aided their amusement facility businesses massively (seen here) - but other than that, it is generally the most level-headed and truthful assessment of Sega's downfall I've yet to hear.

    Nakayama is an incredibly complex character too. For everyone who's alleged he physically abused his employees, and certainly grew to hate his guts like Shoichiro Irimajiri did ("the dictator of Sega" - his own words there), there are lots of others who worked with/under him and insist he was the man that unquestionably led the company like no other could. He may well have been both at the same time in some respects, but I would be inclined to say he seemed moreso the latter.
     
    Last edited: Dec 6, 2022
  17. doc eggfan

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    Has anyone actually tried to estimate whether the 32X was a significant element in the downfall of the Jaguar and 3DO? Every 32X that was sold in Christmas 1994 was money not spent on Atari and 3DO. As much as the 32X was a commercial and consumer failure, could it be seen as a successful venture if the main aim was to simply cripple the competition (in a mutually assured destruction kind of way).

    How would the lifespan of the Jaguar and 3DO have panned out if Sega had done nothing? Would the 3DO company and/or Atari have been buoyed up by a moderately successful 1994 Christmas season and survived long enough to directly compete with Sony? Would that have fragmented the market into a four or five horse race that would have made it a bit harder for the PlayStation to succeed as quickly as it did? Would Sega have weathered the storm better if they had been more patient, or was there a very real threat of being left behind.
     
  18. Tbf SEGA Japan also wanted the 32X at the start, but when it became clear the Jaguar was going to be a flop and that the Sega Saturn was going to make the 1994 Fall date even with the redesign was when the 32X should have been dropped.

    I'll have more respect for Mr Kalinske if he just came out and said he made the wrong call, rather than blaming everything on SEGA Japan and how he could have worked with SONY Ect. I do blame Mr Kalinske for being far too lose with SEGA's money too, stupid spends on Sonic 3 PR budget, huge R&D spends on the likes of 3D glasses and Activator or on the Mulit Media studio Ect

    I think the 3D0 was dead on launch due to the price and the early software of the Jaguar and Atari poor state and no support from Japan more or less killed the Jaguar. I really wish SEGA wne with the Jupiter plan myself. The lower cost Jupiter and the High cost Saturn seemed to me the better way, given they shared the same tech and Jupiter users could upgrade to Saturn at a latter date.
     
  19. Black Squirrel

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    I think it's more, "resentment from the people being beaten" rather than Hayao Nakayama and chums, so it wouldn't appear in the newsletter.

    But I also suspect "resentment" didn't go much further than "please stop bringing him up in our meetings, my head hurts". And again, probably wasn't at thing in 1996 when he left.
     
  20. Gryson

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    It's true that Nakayama emphasized the failure of the Mega Drive in the domestic market while praising its success overseas several times during company-wide speeches in the early 90s. But as you say, I doubt any feelings of resentment led to anything. The main reason is that the only person making decisions about console release dates was Nakayama himself, and he was very pro-SOA. The people marketing the Mega Drive in Japan must have been so far removed from any decisions affecting SOA.

    The bigger problem, and the problem that I think Kalinske is really referring to, is that there was a loss of trust in SOA due to the 32X. There was basically no buy-in among Japanese employees in regards to the 32X. This comes up occasionally in interviews with Japanese development staff. The only one pushing it in Japan was Nakayama, who had been convinced by Kalinske, Miller, and Toyoda. Nakayama's speeches from 1994 show him on the defensive when he talks about the 32X, arguing that he knows it's a risky choice, but he's sure it's the right one, and so on.

    Kalinske's problems began when the 32X failed, to Nakayama's great embarrassment. That's the point at which Nakayama changed his attitude about how SOA was handling the Saturn.