While many current gamers may not know who Tom Kalinske issue, those who grew up during the Sega Genesis era will. Tom Kalinske, who was the main man behind SEGA of American in the 90’s, the man who helped the Genesis during its battle with the Super Nintendo. If it wasn’t for Tom, the SEGA Genesis in North American wouldn’t have been the system it was.
Sadly, Tom couldn’t handle everything and several failed attempts by SEGA, namely the Sega CD, Saturn and the 32X, had forced Tom to step down as SEGA of America’s CEO in 1996. Shortly afterwards, Tom departed SEGA and was seemingly never heard from again. But now, it looks like Tom Kalinske is back.
Now Tom is back as the chairman for Gazillion. That name should also be familiar to you as Gazillion is the developer of the F2P title, Marvel Heroes. And it looks like while Tom is happy to return to the gaming scene, he admits that he hasn’t been keeping tabs on the industry as much as he should have.
“You can imagine being out of the industry for 20 years and then coming back in, the changes are unbelievable,” Kalinske said. “I’ve got so much learning to do. I didn’t even know about things like Steam and Valve. But the great thing is a lot of this was started so long ago. Remember, we had mobile games long, long ago. We did mess around with VR, but never successfully. I cancelled the introduction of VR when I was at Sega because it made everyone sick, basically. I love what’s going on in AR. I’ve been a little bit part of eSports. So I’ve seen these things develop, and I’m so excited about what’s going on.”
So why rejoin the video game industry if he’s been out of touch for so long? A personal invitation from none other than the current Gazillion CEO, Dave Dohrman.
“We’d known each other strangely enough from our children’s little league baseball days,” Kalinske said. “And we had tried to do a deal a few years ago with Nolan Bushnell to buy Atari back from the French [company that] owned it at the time. So that got me back thinking about the video game industry. So when Dave joined Gazillion, he invited me over and I was frankly knocked out by the quality of the Marvel Heroes game. To me it was a sensational game, and I then had my sons play it and they confirmed with me that they thought it was a sensational game. And I just thought it was an interesting company and wondered if I could help them in any way.”
And it looks like Tom is pretty happy with the situation at Gazillion, so much that he’s even gone on record stating it reminds him of his SEGA days. Well, at the least the early and successful days at SEGA.
“It reminded me a lot of when I joined Sega in the 1990s… They didn’t have that many products and we had to develop a lot quickly. We did so, and we had a unique strategy to go up against Nintendo. If I have any strength at all, it’s that I like unique strategies, and I’m hoping to help the company by helping them develop some unique strategies.”
It’s good to see you back, Tom! Good Luck at Gazillion and I can’t wait to see what kind of magic you can produce there.