NEW YORK (CNNfn) - Sega of America Inc. has replaced its president just three weeks before the launch of the company's highly-touted Dreamcast video game console.
Sega of America, the U.S. subsidiary of Tokyo-based Sega Enterprises Ltd., the number three video game console maker behind Nintendo and Sony, said that as of Wednesday Bernard Stolar no longer is with the company.
A Sega spokesman declined to elaborate about Stolar's departure and said it won't derail the Dreamcast launch "in any way, shape or form."
"It would take a nuclear bomb falling on Sega to screw this up," David Karraker said. "It's too late. Everything is locked and loaded. We do not feel this is going to affect the success of Dreamcast at launch or in the future."
David Leibowitz, analyst with Burnham Securities, said Stolar's departure "clearly caught the industry by surprise."
Leibowitz said there was no reason Stolar's leaving should affect initial sales of Dreamcast, since the former president is not featured in advertisements and is not well known beyond investors and hard-core game people. Still, he said the timing was very surprising.
Leibowitz also said there were probably several factors contributing to the parting of the ways, and that "one has to presume things didn't go well on either side of the Pacific."
The company said Toshiro Kezuka will succeed Stolar and has been named vice-chairman and chief operating officer. Kezuka joined Sega of America this year and was a board member and head of domestic sales and distribution for Sega Enterprises Ltd. since 1995. Previously, he was a president of Honda France.
The top-level management change comes just before the scheduled Sept. 9 launch of Sega's Dreamcast videogame system, which the company describes as the most powerful video game console ever created.
The Dreamcast launch is backed by a $100 million marketing campaign, and Karraker said there will be 250,000 to 300,000 pre-sales at launch.
"Bernie has done a fine job positioning the product," Leibowitz said, "orchestrating a media blitz that has resulted in a sell-out before it hits the shelves."
As proof that Stolar's leaving will not hurt Dreamcast, Karraker pointed to a time back in 1995 when Sony of America's president and a vice president left the company just three weeks before the launch of Sony Playstation.
And the name of that VP? Bernard Stolar.