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.

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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
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

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