Microsoft taps ex-Steam director to improve Windows gaming

Remember those Valve layoffs we wrote about in February? One of the casualties was Jason Holtman, director of business development for Steam. Holtman had been with the firm for eight years, and he's now working for Microsoft. GamesIndustry International has confirmed Holtman's new digsā€”and, more interestingly, that he's "focusing on making Windows a great platform for gaming and interactive entertainment."

According to the GamesIndustry article, Holtman was the "driving force" behind Steam, which is easily the best game distribution platform around. Holtman is credited with recruiting both smaller developers and big-name publishers like EA and Activision. He apparently had a role in "calming publisher fears" about the huge discounts in Steam's summer and holiday sales, too.

If Holtman was working on content distribution for the Xbox One, I wouldn't have been surprised. Microsoft has for years emphasized Xbox gaming, seemingly at the expense of supporting the PC. But Holtman claims to be working on Windows, suggesting the folks at Redmond have renewed interest in the PC as a gaming platform. Perhaps they, too, have noticed an uptick in PC gaming revenue.

Although we don't have any specifics on Holtman's current projects, I hope he's been tasked with replacing Games For Windows Live with something less awful. While perhaps not as objectionable as Origin or Uplay, GFWL could use an overhaul. Holtman should have the experience to steer Microsoft in the right direction. The question is whether he'll have enough pull to overcome the company's current inertia.

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