Former Steam Boss Jason Holtman Joins Oculus VR

One of the men responsible for the success of Steam now works for the company behind the Oculus Rift.

Add yet another ex-Valve employee to the list of those who have joined Oculus VR: Jason Holtman, former director of business development for Valve, has been named Head of Platform for the Oculus Rift headset maker today.

Holtman doesn't come to Oculus VR directly from Valve. He parted ways with the company last year at the same time it suffered a number of layoffs. He then joined Microsoft in August to work on "making Windows a great platform for gaming" before leaving it earlier this year.

An Oculus blog post announcing Holtman's hiring says he "will be spearheading the business development and partnership side of the Oculus platform." At Valve, he helped Steam to grow into the giant it is today, advocating the ever-popular Steam sales and working on content licensing.

Jason Holtman

As part of today's announcement, Holtman shared an anecdote about his love for playing Battlezone in the arcades as a kid. "That feeling when you grabbed the dual joysticks and pressed your face to the viewfinder was transformative. It was unlike anything else you could play," he said. "Battlezone, although simply rendered, made you believe that you were in that world and that there had to be something beyond those mountains.

"Battlezone is widely regarded as one of the first VR games, and looking back, those mountains still excite me. I want to fly, walk across alien landscapes, and nose around the Great Pyramids. And that's the most telling thing about VR: the possibilities are obvious, immediate, and endless."

Oculus VR was acquired by Facebook earlier this year in a $2 billion deal. Aside from impressing many of those who have tried out its Oculus Rift VR headset (and nauseating others), Oculus has been amassing a wealth of talent from throughout the games industry. In addition to the likes of John Carmack, it's hired a number of former Valve employees besides Holtman, including Michael Abrash, Atman Binstock, Aaron Nicholls, and Tom Forsyth. Its extensive hirings have become hard to keep track of, so Oculus was kind enough to offer a list of 25-plus people who have joined since March, which you can find below.

ZeniMax Media, parent company of Carmack's former studio, id Software, recently sued Oculus VR, alleging it had stolen ZeniMax technology and was now making use of it--claims that Oculus denies. Meanwhile, Oculus has its sights on the lofty goal of drawing in a billion people, though it claims it still remains "very committed to gaming."

Oculus VR will be showing off the second iteration of its development kit at E3 next week, and we might very well hear some announcements regarding games supporting the device during the week-long conference. The Oculus Rift has yet to be officially released to consumers, but its development kit is available for preorder for those willing to part with $350.

The partial list of Oculus hirings since March follows below:

  • Neil Konzen, former engineer at Valve and one of the original Microsoft employees
  • Brian Hook, former engineer at RAD (Telemetry) and the original author of 3Dfx Glide
  • Adrian Wong, former lead systems engineer at Google[x] (Glass)
  • Ian Field, former engineer at ARM and co-inventor of Cortex-M
  • Raul Corella, former head of supply chain at JawBone, Monster, and Leap Motion
  • Laura Fryer, former GM of Epic Seattle and WB Seattle
  • Paul Pedriana, former lead engineer at EA
  • David Moore, former engineer at RAD (Granny)
  • Kenneth Scott, former art director at 343 Studios (Halo 4)
  • Seneca Menard, former technical artist at id Software
  • Paul Pepera, former environment artist at Valve and 343 Studios
  • Brian Sharp, former engineer at Bungie
  • Aaron Nicholls, former engineer at Valve, 343 Studios, and Microsoft
  • Matt Alderman, former engineer at Valve and ArenaNet
  • Cass Everitt, former GPU architect and engineer at Nvidia
  • Ross O'Dwyer, former at head of development support at Havok
  • Douglas Lanman, former research scientist at Nvidia Research and MIT Media Lab
  • …and many, many more: Scott Boyce, Gayan Ediriweera, Michael Berger, Khoi Nguyen, Aaron Toney, Bruce Cleary, Anusha Balan, Sagy Wiessbrod, Christopher Taylor, Soh Tanaka, Matt Mojica, Hyo Jin Kim, Steve Arnold, Dan Moskowitz
Chris Pereira is a freelance writer for GameSpot, and you can follow him on Twitter @TheSmokingManX
Got a news tip or want to contact us directly? Email news@gamespot.com
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Chris Pereira

Twitter/Xbox Live/PSN/Nintendo Network: TheSmokingManX
55 comments
crushbrain
crushbrain

putting a little steam on the ol' goggles there, eh?

Lord_999
Lord_999

Oculus VR is really picking up steam

daikkenaurora12
daikkenaurora12

Yeah!  "Jump into the Rift" <- phrase patented by me so dont steal it OR. lol

GarGx1
GarGx1

That's some serious talent getting sucked into the Rift

blackothh
blackothh

The rift keeps sucking things into it!

Printul_Noptii
Printul_Noptii

why are people so obsessed with oculus VR ? :/ its probably fun the first few times you play with it but imagine wearing those googles for a long time and people will start to get sick and its even more anti social than casual gaming lol

Fabian85
Fabian85

Nothing is going to stop the Oculus VR train.

bongsyas_23
bongsyas_23

wow that is a lot of talent.  and what have you been doing with your life?

Reuwsaat
Reuwsaat

Talk about a high profile team..

cratecruncher
cratecruncher

I wouldn't care if Monsanto, RJReynolds, and Goldman Suchs owned Oculus as long as I get my headset to play games in VR.  This product is going to be a transformational change in gaming.  You'll see. Haters, lol.

jimmy_russell
jimmy_russell

This is going to be a colossal waste of time and money. All the brilliant tech in the world doesn't change the fact that you look like a complete jackass wearing a TV strapped to your dome.

fredyellowone
fredyellowone

All those people now rich because of a few guys giving their precious money on KS.

soeppel
soeppel

I just wonder how much longer it will take before they buy Steam. Microsoft, Apple, Sony, many have tried. I say within a year.


We Are the Facebook. You Will be Assimilated. Resistance is Futile

DarkSaber2k
DarkSaber2k

Gamespot seems to be mixing up "pays for" and is "behind of". Again.

pyro1245
pyro1245

haha what are all those people going to do? seems kind of silly to keep hiring people but whatever. It's the future! ...or some other such nonsense.

eze_sl89
eze_sl89

even if this device is a failure is worth buying , because it will turn into a dark and rare peace of hardware.. and collectors in the future will be eager to get. similar to the virtual boy in ebay right now. 

eze_sl89
eze_sl89

i just want this to watch p0rn

aegis_kleais
aegis_kleais

Hmmm. Well... you can't doubt their commitment to bringing in top-tier talent. Sparing no expense.

Dannystaples14
Dannystaples14

I'm kind of sick of hearing about this now.

Yeah we get it everyone who tries it thinks it is great. The point is the thing won't be released for another two years at least and even then it will be a niche product because no developer will make games for it till there are people using it and people won't use it till there are games worth playing.

This thing will never make it main stream.

Dannystaples14
Dannystaples14

@Printul_Noptii Yeah my head gets warm and kind of sweaty when I'm wearing a pair of headphones like my Turtle Beach Headphones.

Wearing a pair of headphones and a pair of googles would be like wearing a balaclava.

My headphones already have kind of a weird moisture in them. If I put my headphones onto a piece of paper now after a couple of years of daily use there is a weird liquid patch that appears on the paper.

Disgusting I know but having a pair of Oculus goggles doing a similar thing will be like wearing an agar plate on your head.

mkeezay22
mkeezay22

@cratecruncher  Indeed OR with games like Elite Dangerous are going to make traditional gaming feel like smart phone gaming, it's going to be amazing, especially with developers making OR exclusives.

mkeezay22
mkeezay22

@jimmy_russell  Who cares what you look like are you inviting a group of people to watch you play, and I know a girl gamer who wants OR so obviously she doesn't care and she's the kind of girl who wears the most expensive makeup and clothes she can find, if she doesn't have an issue with it then I know many like her also won't, it's a VR headset what do you want contact lens VR.

And it's not a TV lol, it uses an OLED display, which uses two different angles to emulate how the human eye works.

gregglle
gregglle

Hmm obv you never tried it. How can you assume its a colossal waste of money when you never tried it! You think maybe the people who tried it might know what they are talking about. Hmmm

Stiler
Stiler

@jimmy_russell 

1. It's not a "TV" it's an OLED screen. 

2. Why on earth do you "carE" what you look like while playing the Rift? You're not going to go out wearing it, you're not going to go to a club to pick up women and have it strapped to your face. It will be something you use at home to play games on, who gives a crap what you look like then?



predatorGS
predatorGS

@fredyellowone They did get an OR VR.... (those who pledged)

Horndawgie
Horndawgie

@soeppel Well money buys tech and brains to make those advances in tech. You want something other than 1080P 60 FPS? Guess what? It takes money to buy the best brains in the business so you can have the fancy things you want. If you didn't ask for it, they wouldn't be fighting over your money. So, you only have yourselves to blame. Just like the terrible journalism you people complain about here, and yet you all keep coming back to feed the beast. You just don't get it.

jinzo9988
jinzo9988

@liquidbutter I don't get people who have that view.  That's like saying that the LA Clippers are going to turn into a bunch of paper-pushing nerds that don't even play basketball just because Steve Ballmer bought the team.  It's dumb... it doesn't make sense.

Horndawgie
Horndawgie

@liquidbutter Wrong. The only thing you need to know is money talks and BS walks. Facebook has billions to hire the best of the best to get the best tech developed. Just because you think they're evil', whatever that may be, doesn't mean anything other than you're biased. Zuckerburg- 30 billion. You- zero.

jimmy_russell
jimmy_russell

@eze_sl89 Imagine your mother reads all of your comments. Would you continue to say these things? Go to the bar, buy a girl a drink, take her home and bang her. What's wrong with you people.

gregglle
gregglle

@eze_sl89 don't we all. those beautiful naked bodies right next to you. mmmmmm

Kunakai
Kunakai

@Dannystaples14 I'm pretty sure there are a fair few developers making content for this device already. Sure EA aren't on board yet but no other major publisher has announced their stance yet as far as I'm aware. 

Niche or mainstream, I'm planning to get the first commercial release along with Star Citizen.

gregglle
gregglle

@Dannystaples14 consumer version is coming out within a year. plenty of people are on board. it's happening, and it's going to change everything. you can try to resist all you want

ecter1216
ecter1216

@Dannystaples14 @Printul_Noptii Because its the technology itself. Just like Kinect sucks for gaming it actually proves to be quite an innovation for other aspects. I assume this VR will be a Fad for games then die but the technology will be adapted for numerous things as it is a good piece of hardware. 

mkeezay22
mkeezay22

@Bellum_Sacrum @bongsyas_23  A lot of talent that left to join the Oculus team, look at all those people and others like Carmack, they know the business and having them on the OR team means nothing but good things

liquidbutter
liquidbutter

@jinzo9988 @liquidbutter irrelevant comparison. We all know Zuckerburg wants to shape Oculus to use his Facebook branding and Facebook's monetization methods. Those of us that "have that view" don't want our private information data mined and sold to marketing companies. Facebook is horrendous in their privacy policies because they don't believe in privacy.

suppaphly42
suppaphly42

@eze_sl89 @liquidbutter avatar picture aside he is not alone in that thinking so based on that consensus maybe you are the stupid one

RedXuchilbara
RedXuchilbara

@gregglle @eze_sl89 they already have a prototype, but you have a 10% chance it will ripe your junk off.

but it's worth it right?

.............................

Dannystaples14
Dannystaples14

@Kunakai All I've seen so far are space simulators. I want racing games, RPGs, first person action games. Where are all of those?

Unless you count that monstrosity with a giant Miku Hatsune in it, a game?

Dannystaples14
Dannystaples14

@gregglle Also who says the consumer verison is coming out within a year? They haven't given a release date yet and why would they still be recruiting major developers like this if they were close to finishing it?

Dannystaples14
Dannystaples14

@gregglle You really think most people are going to replace their TV for this? A TV that they already own and is perfectly immersive for movies and games already unless you have the attention of a woodland critter.

Take an example if you play a game with just two people. Not only will the computer you are using need to render the game twice (once per headset) to play the game but you will need two headsets. Even at $300 each you are at $600 already and the average family play together and have on average four to five members. Plus my computer can barely render a game at 1080p once let alone two or more times.

And consoles? No chance are they hitting 1080p and 60fps consistently any time soon.

Which means most casuals are out already and they are the majority of the gaming population. A product that isn't targeting the majority of the gaming population is a niche product and not main stream.

It may sell plenty but it won't change everything. There are simply too many every day limitations to it.

gregglle
gregglle

Because they are building a company to help further the progression of VR. Theyll be around for a long time duh.

gregglle
gregglle

Yes because I understand what vr is. It is that transformative. Its the paradigm change thats been destined to happen. A flat screen monitor is just too limiting after you try VR

suppaphly42
suppaphly42

@gregglle  hey whoa i didn't say i was thinking like that but there are a lot of people who do i was just playing the devil's advocate