Microsoft confirmed today that it has hired Jason Holtman to help lead its PC gaming efforts. Holtman left Valve in February for unknown reasons. As Neowin reported, he was known in that role for his work on Steam, the exceedingly popular PC game sale and delivery platform.
Microsoft has a similar effort, Games for Windows, that is generally regarded as lesser than Steam by gamers. By hiring Holtman Microsoft could be signaling that it isn’t willing to allow Steam and its corporate parent Valve hegemony over the PC gaming market. That would make sense, as the PC gaming market is heavily concentrated on the Windows platform, which is Microsoft territory.
Holtman provided a statement to GamesIndustry about his move: “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.”
That’s boilerplate, but his role at Microsoft could be interesting, given that Microsoft now has two discrete game-delivery systems: Games for Windows and the Windows 8 Store. This is both a boon — higher surface area to vend gaming titles — and confusing for consumers who may want a more unified system.
That said, Holtman’s own note on his role at Microsoft, PC Gaming and Entertainment Strategy according to his LinkedIn profile, could have wide latitude inside the company. The key takeaway to this is that even though the Xbox One is a driving gravity force in the gaming space, the PC remains a key and large market for Microsoft and other software publishers.
Physical distribution of gaming content, like all forms of software, is present and future. Boxes are over. And Holtman is famous for his vigor in that exact space. Microsoft, which is currently racing to refract its business to reflect that reality, appears to have made a timely hire.
Update: Microsoft confirmed with TechCrunch that Holtman has been hired.
Top Image Credit: Mike Mozart