Microsoft Hires Former Steam Boss Holtman to Make Windows Great for Gaming

By: Radu Tyrsina
3 minute read

When you think about gaming and Microsoft, one word comes to your mind – Xbox. But Microsoft wants to transform the Xbox into something more than just gaming and make it more like an entertainment hub. For that, the Redmond company wants to create original content in order to attract new Xbox Live subscribers.

In the mean time, Microsoft is also interested in make Windows even greater for gaming, somehow mixing and switching roles with Xbox. For that, Microsoft is looking for crème de la crème talent in the gaming industry and has hired former Steam executive Jason Holtman. Mister Holtman has been working at Steam, Valve’s digital distribution platform, for the past eight years and has been one of they key persons that transformed it into a veritable success. Now, his mission is to do the same with Windows.

Holtman to make Windows appealing for gamers

In a recent intervention, Jason Holtman has confirmed that his new job at Microsoft will consist in improving the gaming and entertainment aspects of Windows. As of now, we don’t know whether he will focus on Windows 8 or on more versions, but let’s hope he can somehow improve Windows 8 games from the Windows Store, for starters.

Yes, I have joined Microsoft where I will be focusing on making Windows a great platform for gaming and interactive entertainment. I think there is a lot of opportunity for Microsoft to deliver the games and entertainment customers want and to work with developers to make that happen, so I’m excited to be here.

Holtman has left Valve back in February, when more high-profile employees at Valve were reportedly laid off without an official jason holtman microsoft pc gamingexplanation being given. At the time, Valve founder Gabe Newell said “we’re not going to discuss why anyone in particular is or isn’t working here.”

The main job that Holtman was doing at Valve consisted in convincing developers and major game publishers to choose Steam and entrust it with its digital sales. More than that, he was excited with what he was doing and was a driving force over at Steam. Microsoft has focused solely on the Xbox One launch lately, somehow neglecting the potential that Windows and overall, the PC gaming industry still have. With Holtman’s hiring, maybe Microsoft is going to revamp its Games for Windows initiative.

John Taylor, managing director at Arcadia Investment Corp:

It seems like a guy who comes from Valve who has no peer, in my mind, in the gaming space relative to really strong B-to-C [business to consumer] relations could indicate a ramp up in the importance of that space

Not only did Holtman convinced important third party publishers to sell their games directly on Steam but he also made many smaller gaming companies embraces Steam, a move that probably saved many of them from going extinct.  Chriss Morris with Games Industry International:

The respect Holtman has earned in leading digital distribution could be invaluable to Microsoft, which has not had a lot of success in that world. Though available in 41 countries, the Games for Windows Live service is currently not viewed as a strong player in the PC gaming world.  It’s not just his relationship with publishers and developers that’s valuable, though. Holtman also knows how to connect with customers – something Microsoft has been lacking so far in its digital distribution efforts.

Of course, Holtman’s duties could expand beyond just PC gaming as well. Digital distribution is expected to be a major component of the eighth generation of consoles. And while his experience so far has been on the PC side, Microsoft may be looking for Holtman to drive adoption and consumer loyalty of online purchases on the Xbox One in the years to come.

So, what do you think? What is Jason Holtman going to do over at Microsoft to make Windows “great for gaming and entertainment”? My personal bet is on the Windows Store.

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