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Microsoft bolsters its PC gaming cred with Steam’s former business maestro

After suddenly leaving Valve after eight years, Steam’s former director of business development, Jason Holtman, has found a new home at Microsoft. Holtman will focus on “PC Gaming and Entertainment strategy.”

holtman“Yes, I have joined Microsoft where I will be focusing on making Windows a great platform for gaming and interactive entertainment,” Holtman confirmed to GamesIndustry.biz. “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.”

While at Valve, Holtman was in charge of interacting with developers that distributed games via Steam. During his eight year stint, he was a major proponent of digital distribution, and is credited for brokering many of the deals between Valve and third-party developers like EA and Activision, in order to bring their games to the Steam service. He was also a champion of smaller developers and publishers, and helped encourage the growth of indie games via Steam.

Although neither Holtman nor Microsoft have gone into specifics about the former lawyer’s new job at Microsoft, his title does specifically state that he will be working with PC gaming.

The Games for Windows Live service has been struggling for years now, and is generally viewed as an inferior service compared to that of competitors like Steam. Holtman should be able to provide an immediate boost to Microsoft, but PC gaming may just one part of Microsoft’s strategy.

Microsoft has made no secret of its desire to make all of its products connect, so the PC gaming and console gaming digital distribution models are likely to be linked. The Xbox One uses architecture that is similar to a PC, and the idea of improving the online distribution for the new console and making it more like Steam is intriguing.

Holtman left Steam back in February, following the firing of hardware engineer Jeri Ellsworth. No reason was given for Ellsworth’s departure, but she did confirm that she was fired. Nine others were removed from Valve’s employee list at the same time, with no explanation. Shortly after the departures, Holtman announced that he was leaving Valve. Co-founder and managing director Gabe Newell stated that Valve’s priorities were in no way changing, but beyond that he refused to comment on personnel matters. We have contacted Valve for comment, and will update the post as necessary.