If Valve has a problem – and I’m not convinced they do – it’s that they attract staff of such calibre that their ambitions can’t be contained even within Gabe’s broad church (which has a spire made of lead for extra malleability).
So it was that Valve director of business development Jason Holtman, there from Steam’s beginnings and for TF2’s free-to-play reinvention, left in the Summer for Microsoft – the occasional games publisher with a diverse portfolio including Flight Simulator, Forza Motorsport and Outlook. The hope was that he’d fix the company’s broken approach to PC gaming.
Six months later, things look a little more wintery – Holtman’s moved on, again.
Holtman’s arrival at Microsoft, at a time when Games for Windows Live’s reign of error was coming to an end, lent credence to the company’s latest claims of a full-hearted return to PC gaming.
There were even excitable whispers that Holtman might do for a GFWL successor what he did for Steam – i.e. make it good. Alas, Microsoft seconded his rumoured departure overnight.
“We can confirm that Jason has left Microsoft and we’re grateful for his time at the company,” a Microsoft rep told Gamasutra when pressed, like a lemon. “We wish him the best in his future endeavors.”
In August, Holtman said he had joined Microsoft to reshape Windows as “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,” he said at the time.
It’s not unprecedented for Valve staffers to return home. But I’ve a suspicion Holtman will reach for new challenges a little tougher than keeping Steam running – though perhaps a little lighter than saving Microsoft from themselves. What do you lot reckon?