Layoffs at Valve - Report

[UPDATE] Half-Life house reportedly lays off as many as 25 developers as part of "large decisions" about company's future; director of business Jason Holtman also out.

[UPDATE] Develop reports that Valve director of business Jason Holtman has left the company.

The original story follows below

Half-Life and Counter-Strike developer Valve Software has enacted a round of layoffs as the company contemplates "large decisions" about its future, Gamasutra reports today.

This follows news that Valve hardware engineer Jeri Ellsworth was fired earlier this week.

An exact layoff headcount was not divulged, though the site has heard descriptions of the event as a "great cleansing" and "large decisions." As many as 25 staffers may have been let go, though this is not confirmed.

The layoffs reportedly affected more than one department, coming from the company's hardware and Android development teams. Valve has yet to comment on the rumor.

Speaking last month at the University of Texas, Valve founder Gabe Newell discussed the company's "sink or swim" culture and said it needed to be "aggressive" about firing people.

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Eddie Makuch

Eddie Makuch is a news editor at GameSpot, and would like to see the Whalers return to Hartford.
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159 comments
shruteshkumar
shruteshkumar

Well at least we know that the reasons are not financial xD

SEEDman_X
SEEDman_X

I am really curious about what the big move is.  However, I don't think it's a financial decision, since Gabe resisted selling the company or going public.  For him, money isn't the biggest issue, PLUS Valve is doing very well financially!

osxgp
osxgp

Here is a concept Valve, try working on what people want: Half Life 3, L4D 3, Portal 3. Maybe even work on a new Source Engine.

philMcCrevis
philMcCrevis

thats what they get for never delivering Half Life 2 Episode 3.  and also for coming out with a new software title every 10 years

jkim161
jkim161

Valve probably decided to work with an outside company for their hardware products instead of developing them internally. That's probably why they did the layoffs. This is just speculation of course.

jenovaschilld
jenovaschilld

First off, rough time for the employees, hope they got some kind of notice and or healthy severance packages. Layoff/termination of jobs is one of the most difficult times in anyones life. 

After reading gamesindustryinternational, valve has possibly laid off employees across the company from artists, game testers, to dept heads. The way I see it, there are a couple ways of looking at it: 1 steambox device is out, new changes to network are completed, and valve/steam is just contracting like any other company after pushing a new line. 2 The other is, projected sales forecasts for the next couple of years will be harsher then previously thought. All computer video games sales decrease when new consoles come to market for a couple of years and then bounce back late in the consoles life. 

Either way steam will be fine and continue to grow and perform well, especially once they release their new games. Steam sales will be luke warm for the next couple of years and the steambox, I think, will not get enough penetration to have been worth the development. Still yet steam is the future whether you agree with the way they distribute their games or not. 

Today, businesses hire and fire like teenage girls on facebook. It is to keep the company nimble and flexible to changes in the industry. Well I feel those companies that develop talent and endure hard stormy times instead of throwing people overboard at the first sign of clouds do much better long term. A lot of companies will not hire for yearly contracts for fear of losing talent to competitors or losing ideas if a worker knows their contract will be up in a year. Still when you surprise fire and lay off your employees not many will bother coming back to a company that puts business over everything else, especially its  people.  


MatrixGamer78
MatrixGamer78

Valve is swimming hard to surivive but a fact is that it is about to sink..

raduz123
raduz123

All I know is I want Half-Life 3, if it doesn't happen I am going to kick steam to death.

HiddenWarrior
HiddenWarrior

I've have seen a lot of layoffs in the industry world lately and this one seems the most sad one to me.

Any way, I'm hoping Valve will stabilize their company soon enough so they don't lose any staff by resignation.

nate1222
nate1222

To all the bed wetters worrying about the layoffs: Most of those folks probably have bank and side gigs. So they should be okay.

To everyone who thinks Gabe is Jesus: Remember, Steam uses DRM. Which means they can stiff you blind anytime they see it profitable. Last time I checked, very few 'businesses' were clean. Very, very few.

Sam3231
Sam3231

hahah what would Gaben know about swimming?

AwesomeIRL
AwesomeIRL

Maybe if they'd actually release a game they wouldn't have to lay off people.

Wru Half Life 3? 

Patohua1
Patohua1

Man that's rough. Though this may have something to do with a potential major lawsuit being launched against them

nemes1s3000
nemes1s3000

Valve is a company that needs people who can work on their own, and not follow orders or what others have to say. Notice that the majority of the laid off are developers. Valve is a sink or swim company, and if you cannot keep up with their kind of mind set, then you are not cut out to be an employee.

That's where EA comes in and swallows the left overs. ^_^ Joking, of course.

Daian
Daian

I wonder what's the exact reasoning behind this, clearly it's not money. Odd.

Sardinar
Sardinar

I trust Gaben. 

Let's not come to conclusions simply because we don't know anything.

pip3dream
pip3dream

My thoughts are that they are maybe reconsidering going into the hardware field.  it's just such a hard way to make profits.

pip3dream
pip3dream

Valve has never been an easy going company to work for.  Even reading their manual, its an extremely competitve place to work - just like the article says - its very much a sink or swim company.  i think its great to really cultivate some of the best of the best,  but i also know some great programmers and designers who were scared off from working at valve due to the somewhat cut throat culture of the company.

Deadly_Nemesis
Deadly_Nemesis

Am I the only one getting a little worried here?

I mean Valve firing people? Easy going Valve?

And fuck EA is actually making sense this week....this can not be good.

WTA2k5
WTA2k5

Firing people and referring to it as a "great cleansing" just isn't classy.

sonicare
sonicare

Unfortunately, that is the nature of the real world. 

TrueProphecy22
TrueProphecy22

I remember hearing about how Valve was a haven for creative thinkers, how laid back and wonderful it was to work there.  Not so much any more, huh?

SystemOnline
SystemOnline

It's funny to hear a company that still hasn't released Half-Life 3 to talk about having a "sink or swim" culture...

brainiac1988
brainiac1988

Have they started working on HL3 yet?     they better....

dab0ne
dab0ne

Wait... didn't Steam make like 1 billion dollars last year?  What gives?  Not to be harsh but it isn't the money.  Maybe they weren't good enough?

makryu
makryu

These 25 were actually working on HL3. Gabe found out and fired them on the spot, mandating the immediate destruction of all hard drives which contained their work.

badlalo59
badlalo59

Put them to work on HL3 for crying out loud.

prostar343
prostar343

If the report is true, and most of the layoffs are coming from the hardware and Android development teams that would not bode well for the idea of a Valve Steambox.  But I think it could reinforce the idea that Valve will create the software and ecosystem for a steambox and rely on partners for the hardware side of things.  Unless, of course the hardware division was working on specifications for a steambox to be produced by partners then that would mean that Valve is pulling away from the idea of a Steambox all together. lol Got to love speculation.

C810
C810

How about they release a freakin' game? Then they won't have to lay people off

mischiefmeerkat
mischiefmeerkat

People need to stop bringing up Halflife 3. It's dead and gone, it's been almost 6 years and not a word. They have other projects now

Granpire
Granpire

Android and hardware teams? I feel for those affected, but I'm not personally bothered unless game development takes a hit.

deadpeasant
deadpeasant

I'm dying to know what these "Large Decisions" are? We need a fly on the walls of the valve offices fast!

Tixylixx
Tixylixx

Also known as the HL3 team.

foxtrot3d
foxtrot3d

Someone of you need to do some research before commenting, but wait I forgot this is the Internet. First of all, Valve doesnt fire people maliciously if you've read their employee handbook and listened to the hour and thirty min talk Gabe gave at the Univ. of Texas you would understand this.


Valve has a very different hands off approach to management, Gabe even refers to the company having a "sink or swim" culture. In other words no one tells you what to do at Valve, you show up and you immediately start working and contributing to the overall effort. If you are an Engineer/Programmer no one is going to tell you to go work on "that game" and create "these lines of code" and this needs to be done before Sunday. Instead, you go to work find a project that interests you and immediately start doing anything you can to help that project. If you are an Programmer but also have a degree in Fine Arts, nobody is going to stop you from making Art Designs as well as Programming.


This is obviously a hard workplace for a lot of people who crave structure and a type of hierarchical order. Gabe mentions that those from the film industry often have the hardest time adjusting because they are so used to being stomped on for showing even a hint of original thought or creativity.

Due to this fact a lot of people end up getting "fired" from Valve, you have to be fully comfortable with working on your own with very little oversight and producing top quality work. If you're someone who just follows orders and needs that hierarchical order then you probably wont be working at Valve for long.

vault-boy
vault-boy

That sucks, I'd bet that working for Valve has to be right up there with being granted the throne to Narnia. 

skunkpants
skunkpants

Hey Valve, how about you move those employees from these unnecessary departments, into the HL3 department?

beuneus12
beuneus12

does this mean halflife 3 is finished?

Vambran
Vambran

Must suck to work in the video game industry. Work for years for a company then get tossed aside , as your former boss talks about the merits of aggressive firing.


jayjay444
jayjay444

1...................2....................2.....................2.................. I can't say it.

Spartan_418
Spartan_418

Clearly this wouldn't be a problem if they were able to count to 3.

tanerb
tanerb

valve stopped being a game developer long ago.

Matty_gamer
Matty_gamer

A company having a tendency to fire its employees and then calling it a cleansing act would not be the one I would like to work at. Having said that i know and love valve i am sure They would have some reason for this which makes me think if this news article is exaggerated.