Microsoft’s often troubled relationship with PC gaming took a positive step in our eyes when the company hired Jason Holtman, previously the head of Steam at Valve, last summer. Now it looks like the gain was short-lived as it emerges that Holtman has left Microsoft after only six months.
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.
Steam Greenlight will redefine how games end up on Valve's digital distribution platform. Greenlight will allow indie devs to foster a community and judge the popularity of their games easily. For more, read Tom "Wonderbrain Behind Upcoming Cerebral Yet Punchy Indie Gunpoint" Francis' piece on how Steam's role is about to change.
But even though Greenlight's voting system will be open to all Steam users, Valve’s director of business management, Jason Holtman, has told PC Gamer that “expert voices” might get highlighted later down the line.
You love Steam Sales. I love Steam Sales. EA, however, don't love Steam Sales. Just a few weeks ago their senior vice president made his opinion clear, claiming that they "cheapen" intellectual property.
We asked Valve's director of business management, Jason Holtman, whether Steam sales have any affect on day-one purchases during last week's Develop conference. He doesn't agree with EA. Not even a little bit. A few days ago the Origin Summer Sale kicked off anyway.
Steam Greenlight is a feature that'll change how games get submitted to the platform. As Tom mentioned in his Greenlight story a few days ago, the power to get a game released on Steam is shifting from Valve to you guys - the customers. It’s a massive step forward for indie developers with a desire to get their title on Valve’s digital distribution service. A few indie gems have been sadly rejected from Steam in the past. Greenlight should stop that happening in future. I got to speak to Valve’s director of business management, Jason Holtman, at the Develop conference in Brighton a few days ago. I asked him if there was a risk that the cream of the crop won’t rise to the top. He's not worried.