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Valve Responds to Reports of Mass Layoff; Projects on Track

By - Source: Engadget | B 25 comments

All projects are still a go despite who has or has not been fired, says Valve.

After a report went live stating that Jeri Ellsworth and around 24 other employees of Valve Software were let go, Gamasutra received news that Valve's director of business development Jason Holtman was part of that list. Even more, a comparison between the current employee directory and one stored last month by the Internet Archive shows that nine are no longer currently listed.

According to the original report, affected employees were asked not to speak about the specifics. But there's speculation that the cuts weren't made over performance issues (as in Valve is cutting the slackers), but that the cuts are driven by "company challenges".

 The biggest surprise cut was Jeri Ellsworth who not too long ago was publicly talking about Valve's hardware efforts. She worked in the studio's year-old hardware division and indicated that hardware testing would actually begin in 2013. This division was working in tandem with Steam's Big Picture Mode, creating a hardware solution to the control-based limitations found in many titles offered on Valve's Steam platform.

So with Ellsworth out of the picture, does that mean Valve's hardware plans have been canned too (outside Piston)? No. According to Valve bossman Gabe Newell, all projects remain in active development.

"We don't usually talk about personnel matters for a number of reasons," Newell told Engadget. "There seems to be an unusual amount of speculation about some recent changes here, so I thought I'd take the unusual step of addressing them."

"No, we aren't canceling any projects," he continued. "No, we aren't changing any priorities or projects we've been discussing. No, this isn't about Steam or Linux or hardware or [insert game name here]. We're not going to discuss why anyone in particular is or isn't working here."

Engadget said that Valve reps would not confirm or deny the layoffs at Valve, nor would they comment on the confirmed exit of Ellsworth. The site also points out that we've already seen Valve in action on the hardware side this year at CES 2013 with its Piston project in association with Xi3 Corporation. The company is also slated to reveal its VR plans this year at the Game Developer's Conference next month.

Still, what's the big staff purge all about? As stated on Wednesday, it's unusual to associate the words "fired" and "layoff" with the Half-Life developer -- it's a peculiar predicament for such a secretive, lucrative studio. Perhaps we'll know more before the whistle officially closes the week on Friday.

 

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  • 24 Hide
    vir_cotto , February 14, 2013 3:43 PM
    Woohoo Half-life still on track for 2025?
  • 17 Hide
    tolham , February 14, 2013 4:19 PM
    "No, we aren't canceling any projects. No, we aren't changing any priorities or projects we've been discussing. No, this isn't about Steam or Linux or hardware or [insert game name here]."

    if purging 25 employees doesn't change anything, then what the hell were those people doing?
  • 13 Hide
    alvine , February 14, 2013 3:48 PM
    come on valve give us half life ep 3
Other Comments
  • 24 Hide
    vir_cotto , February 14, 2013 3:43 PM
    Woohoo Half-life still on track for 2025?
  • 13 Hide
    alvine , February 14, 2013 3:48 PM
    come on valve give us half life ep 3
  • -8 Hide
    icemunk , February 14, 2013 4:07 PM
    Business cycles. Sales rise and fall. A company that thinks it can grow forever, is destined to crash.
  • -4 Hide
    Kami3k , February 14, 2013 4:10 PM
    Quote:
    Business cycles. Sales rise and fall. A company that thinks it can grow forever, is destined to crash.


    Except money isn't the reason, fail.
  • 17 Hide
    tolham , February 14, 2013 4:19 PM
    "No, we aren't canceling any projects. No, we aren't changing any priorities or projects we've been discussing. No, this isn't about Steam or Linux or hardware or [insert game name here]."

    if purging 25 employees doesn't change anything, then what the hell were those people doing?
  • 2 Hide
    icemunk , February 14, 2013 4:19 PM
    Kami3kExcept money isn't the reason, fail.


    My bad, I'm in investment/business mode at the moment
  • 7 Hide
    gm0n3y , February 14, 2013 4:27 PM
    Its hard to imagine that Valve had to let them go for monetary reasons as they make piles of cash with Steam. Maybe they had just been hiring for too long and felt the need to slim down (i.e. getting rid of employee redundancy).
  • 2 Hide
    atavax , February 14, 2013 4:37 PM
    do we even know that 25 people have been fired? The impression i got was the only one we know for sure is Jeri Ellisworth; the 24 other people that might of been fired and rumored and we don't know.

    Also, i am fairly relieved by this news. I'm getting older and gaming is becoming a more casual part of my life and i can definately see myself getting a console in the future instead of pc and both microsoft and sony's consoles don't look particularly appealing. At least Valve seems to understand that they are providing a service and giving the customer the best possible experience trumps everything else.
  • 2 Hide
    senkasaw , February 14, 2013 4:41 PM
    hmmm...sounds to me like there was a big after-hours office orgy. Hence all the hush hush.
  • 5 Hide
    kinggraves , February 14, 2013 4:56 PM
    Valve doesn't have a lot of employees, 25 is a decent chunk of their workforce. There is a difference between "everything's not on the same schedule" and "everything is canceled". Businesses are not going to say they're off track unless there's a solid release date to adhere to. They aren't going to say anything is canned until they're ready to can it. Their hardware has no time frame to stick to, so they can't be off schedule of a project with no public schedule. I cannot imagine things are going to be just the same unless a company of 400 hired 25 extra people to make coffee.

    But a bit of patience will pay off. If they hire new people for those positions then the terminations were because those people were an issue. If they aren't rehired, then Valve had some extra employees to cut. Any successful business has to cut off dead weight. Why would they make cuts NOW though when they're clearly forging ahead with ambitious new projects? The people that were cut were the exact positions that would be working with this project.
  • 7 Hide
    beardguy , February 14, 2013 5:21 PM
    I got laid off shortly after they put my cubicle in the basement. They kept telling me I was the "Project Lead on Half Life 3", but I knew something was fishy when I stopped getting my paycheck. Gabe came down to deliver the news personally in his black Half Life 3 t-shirt (probably to rub it in). Then out of the corner of my eye, I saw him ... the G-man, and things went black. I can't really talk about the rest due to the non-disclosure agreement I signed at my hiring. Plus, what they put in the company water, it makes you forget.

    -An ex-Valve employee
  • 3 Hide
    XZaapryca , February 14, 2013 5:40 PM
    I work in the tech field and have seen this before. Valve is probably straight up lying. "Everything is fine!"...until it isn't. However, if it's truly not financial (if) or canceled projects, these people were fired because they didn't support the direction, weren't getting the job done or simply lost team cohesion (aka, stopped being easy/good to work with).
  • 0 Hide
    RaZZ3RDeath , February 14, 2013 6:13 PM
    Here's a crazy idea: maybe Valve is waiting for ID Software to release Doom 4 so they can go head to head on the technological front of there game engines: Source 2 vs. ID Tech 5 ... so double dosage of awesomeness in 2014 ?!?
  • -2 Hide
    antilycus , February 14, 2013 6:47 PM
    DO the math, with needy, "im special" programmers needing 60k (and thats low) x 9 employees that saves a company 480K a year not to mention the heath insurance the drain from the company. Make it 25 people and well, now you can see saving $2,000,000+ / year could sure make a difference. Americans (yes I am one of them) expect too much for what they do. If you don't think you are getting paid faily, go find someone else to pay you what you think you are worth. If Valve does lay off employees, it's not hard to see why. We are expensive (employees)
  • 3 Hide
    bllue , February 14, 2013 7:25 PM
    If these people's responsibility was mostly hardware then perhaps Valve found some company to offshore the work and Valve fired all this people to save money in the long run. It's just a typical business practice and Valve is a business like any other (there no saints like many like to believe). If you don't need people why keep them around?
    Or maybe it has to do with something else.
  • 1 Hide
    spartanmk2 , February 14, 2013 8:42 PM
    They must of gotten tired of the "Miltons" wondering around looking for their staplers.
  • 2 Hide
    dark_lord69 , February 14, 2013 9:10 PM
    antilycusDO the math, with needy, "im special" programmers needing 60k (and thats low) x 9 employees that saves a company 480K a year not to mention the heath insurance the drain from the company. Make it 25 people and well, now you can see saving $2,000,000+ / year could sure make a difference. Americans (yes I am one of them) expect too much for what they do. If you don't think you are getting paid faily, go find someone else to pay you what you think you are worth. If Valve does lay off employees, it's not hard to see why. We are expensive (employees)

    We wouldn't have to be so expensive if sh*t didn't cost so much! Every company is filled with greedy leaders that try to cut out the competition and get as much money out of your pocket as possible. Apple is a prime example. Try telling me with a straight face that Apple sells computers at a reasonable price. It's not about offering a good product at a fair price. Those days are gone and that is why we are all desperate to make more because everything is overpriced you just don't know because it's been that way since... (I think it was the 50's when most people made plenty more than they needed.)
  • -1 Hide
    bluestar2k11 , February 14, 2013 9:57 PM
    Maybe why they were let go?

    tolham"if purging 25 employees doesn't change anything, then what the hell were those people doing?

  • -1 Hide
    sirencall , February 14, 2013 10:39 PM
    tolham"No, we aren't canceling any projects. No, we aren't changing any priorities or projects we've been discussing. No, this isn't about Steam or Linux or hardware or [insert game name here]."if purging 25 employees doesn't change anything, then what the hell were those people doing?


    That's probably why they were purged. Remember Valve doesn't have heads or anything like that, but just people who come together for projects. These people probably weren't doing anything or weren't coming together. Its pretty much the entire rule book for Valve, come together and help each other on projects you could be most useful in.
  • 4 Hide
    sirencall , February 14, 2013 10:48 PM
    antilycusDO the math, with needy, "im special" programmers needing 60k (and thats low) x 9 employees that saves a company 480K a year not to mention the heath insurance the drain from the company. Make it 25 people and well, now you can see saving $2,000,000+ / year could sure make a difference. Americans (yes I am one of them) expect too much for what they do. If you don't think you are getting paid faily, go find someone else to pay you what you think you are worth. If Valve does lay off employees, it's not hard to see why. We are expensive (employees)


    Ignoring the "im f*cking special" CEO's who take in on average 40-250 million a year, or the CEO's who runs the company in the ground and retires with over 1 billion up to 8 billion in some cases. Yeah you come back to me with that 2 million dollar figure and try to make me feel bad for not thinking $60,000 a year for making your product exist in the first place is something that says "im special."
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