A quick exercise, before we begin a day of Hard News: list the various PC game-selling digital storefronts/services by your order of preference. I'm going to guess that, for most people, Steam and GOG will be towards the top; GamesGate, GMG and Desura will be filling out the middle; and that Origin will be the Wildcard - its placing likely dependant around each person's perception of its parent company. Then we have Microsoft, with Games for Windows Live/Marketplace and the Windows Store. Neither is much loved, and neither has earned much reason to be. And, at a guess, Microsoft isn't too happy about that situation.
Which may explain why they've hired Jason Holtman, Valve's former director of business development for Steam. His new focus at Microsoft: PC gaming and entertainment strategy.
"Yes, I have joined Microsoft where I will be focusing on making Windows a great platform for gaming and interactive entertainment," Holtman told Games Industry . "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 left Valve after eight years, during an unusually public round of lay-offs . Gabe Newell later commented on the period, simply saying, "We're not going to discuss why anyone in particular is or isn't working here."
It's an interesting time to join Microsoft, given their diminishing PC profile. Games continue to drop GfW Live for the more warmly received Steamworks, and the lack of updates or support for the platform would suggest that Microsoft had largely abandoned the service - concentrating instead on the upcoming Xbox One. Of course, Holtman's appointment doesn't mean a GfW revival. Microsoft also have Windows 8's store, where it continues to serve a currently limited selection of games.
(Thanks to Dan Griliopoulos for the image.)