Valve Is the Most Desirable Employer in Video Games, Study Finds

In new study from the IGDA, Half-Life and Steam company beats out Activision, BioWare, Ubisoft, and Naughty Dog, as well as self-employment.

Which video game industry company is the most attractive for people looking for a job? According to a recent study, that award goes to Half-Life and Steam company Valve. The International Game Developers Association (IGDA) today published the results of a 2014 survey of more than 2,200 developers, with Valve taking the top spot, above even "my own company." That's right, more people would rather work for Valve than for themselves.

Valve's Doug Lombardi tells GameSpot, "It's awesome."

Below are the results of the IGDA's study, which was based on data from the group's annual developer satisfaction survey. For the study, the verbatim question put to developers was, "What developer/publisher would you most like to work for?" It's not hard to see why Valve might be a desirable choice for people breaking into the business or looking for a new opportunity.

Valve is a major player in the industry, but unlike the others listed here (except for "my own company"), Valve is privately owned. This means it is not subject to the same pressures as publicly traded companies; after all, once a company goes public, management is tasked with growing shareholder value. People at Valve also don't have bosses, can take as much vacation time as they want, and desks are on wheels to encourage constant dialogue and collaboration between employees.

You can read more about Valve's unique culture in the company's employee handbook [PDF]. The company's structure has not been universally praised, however. Last summer, former hardware engineer Jeri Ellsworth blasted Valve for feeling "like high school." She also said at the time that, though Valve doesn't have bosses in the traditional sense, there exists a "hidden layer of powerful management."

The most desirable developer or publisher employers, according to the IGDA study:

  1. Valve (Half-Life, Steam, Portal)
  2. My own company
  3. Activision Blizzard (Call of Duty, World of Warcraft, Skylanders)
  4. BioWare (Mass Effect, Dragon Age, Star Wars: The Old Republic)
  5. Ubisoft (Assassin's Creed, Far Cry, Just Dance)
  6. Current employer
  7. Nintendo (Mario, The Legend of Zelda, Donkey Kong)
  8. Naughty Dog (The Last of Us, Jak & Daxter, Uncharted)
  9. Double Fine (Brutal Legend, Psychonauts, Broken Age)
  10. Bethesda Game Studios (Fallout, The Elder Scrolls)
Eddie Makuch is a news editor at GameSpot, and you can follow him on Twitter @EddieMakuch
Got a news tip or want to contact us directly? Email news@gamespot.com

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80 comments
gameqol
gameqol

I've been working with the IGDA to analyze their DSS data and provided them with the info for this press release on the most desirable video game employer.  So if you want more detailed data on this check out this post where I have included all 202 companies that were listed by the survey respondents as well as the number of times each company was listed:

 http://gameqol.org/most-desirable-video-game-employer/


@grenadehh @suicidesnOwman @steaminpotatoes @aegis_kleais @Matthew_Bester @GSGuy321 @Too-DementeD @doozie78 @vadagar1 @lfebaggins @Thanatos2k  This should answer some of your questions and confirm some of your suspicions!


When you are on the site, look around at the other archives and sign up for our mailing list if you want more reports that we do or to be a part of future surveys.


Johanna

s3as3a
s3as3a

Working for Valve sounds good, but I would personally still prefer to work for myself.

manutdarsenal
manutdarsenal

IMO, all these other developers are a deuce in Gabe Newell's toilet. Ya, I'm a PC gamer....

Gamer_4_Fun
Gamer_4_Fun

Not sh** being independent and at this scale is a mammoth achievement.

Matthew_Bester
Matthew_Bester

What place did Crytek come or did they have no employees left to take part?

91210user
91210user

It's nice to know that working for yourself is more desirable then the other companies on there.

Penguinlord1
Penguinlord1

It's all about that Gabe Newell, that is all.

Aelfredus
Aelfredus

Too bad Valve rarely releases video games nowadays. It's all about selling 3rd party games on steam and microtransactions on CS:GO, Dota 2 and TF2.

justbefahad
justbefahad

I can't believe Ubisoft is on the list. The rate at which they put out games and have multiple studios working on multiple games (and their sequels at the same time), I thought that Ubisoft might just be abusing their employees with a lash.

heller0351
heller0351

There are good things and bad things about working just about anywhere and Jeri Ellsworth has already nailed a big part of it by saying it feels like high school.  I left after 6 years there, happier to be away from the Valve environment.  Mad props to the developers and for putting out quality products that a lot of us can enjoy, but honestly, to get somewhere in the upper echelon, you have to be a real dick about it.  A hidden management does oust people without warning and everyone starts with an expiration date, unless you know the right people.


Valve is a great place, the tangible benefits are superb, and you can have a lot of fun working with great people.  It can really be a poisonous environment.  


Sure do love me some Steam sales still ;)

Ripper_TV
Ripper_TV

People don't REALLY know what they want. Put them in the company they think they want work at and they'll run crying.

primaryunit
primaryunit

Can't believe the Unholy Trinity is in the top 5.

grenadehh
grenadehh

Judging by previous descriptions of their work environment, of course it is.


You don't have to actually do any work or have 3 levels of management microing you. It's like on Silicon Valley where people get "unassigned" but still get paid.


Other than the fact that you can get peered out like it's special forces or something.

tomservo51
tomservo51

EA is # 230,239,293,291,427, up two spots from last year.

sirchick
sirchick

I would hate to work with Nintendo - they really don't push very hard with creative new IPs. given developers like to be free to create things of any imagination and artists like to do the same, im surprised they don't get bored.

GhoX
GhoX

Valve is actually an indie. It is a private company, so it's not controlled by tens of thousands of shareholders who may not care about games, and it's not a subsidiary of any larger company.

PeterDuck
PeterDuck

The survey also found that about half of the potential employees wishing to work for Valve do so because they want to extract info on Half Life 3.


Shhhhhh....don't tell anyone.

Setzera
Setzera

Though independence has it's positives, the way they've structured Valve sounds quite appealing.

Too-DementeD
Too-DementeD

Actvision is number 3? Well damn.
Surprised Bungie isn't on this list TBH.

DanielL5583
DanielL5583

Not too shocking, frankly.

Though I would prefer to just remain independent, personally.

saltlife225
saltlife225

Irrelevant for Gamespot. Most commentors here will either be bagging by groceries or filling my tank for no tip.

aegis_kleais
aegis_kleais

Not surprising. My top 3 are Valve, CDPR and Irrational (RIP). Thing is, Valve takes the cream of the crop, so though many may aspire to work there (myself included), sadly, it'll be no more than a pipe dream. Those who've earned their place at Valve have paid their dues, and is part of the reason I respect them as much as I do.

steaminpotatoes
steaminpotatoes

Valve and Blizzard at the top no surprise there, sadly no CD Projekt Red yet.

frozenuxx
frozenuxx

Naughty DAWG is 8! OH MA GAWD! 

kujel
kujel

With all the propaganda about valve it's no wonder people want to join them.

revons
revons

@Aelfredus CS:Go and Dota 2 are both valve games games released recently. It isn't always about half life. Don't forget other companies like Blizzard takes awhile to make a game. It doesn't need to be COD and Battlefield 2300 times.

donmuerte
donmuerte

@justbefahad yeah, but when you are forced to watch the credits at the end of the game the list of employees is so long that the credits seem to take as long as it took to play the game.

brutecold
brutecold

@heller0351 I dont think thats really the case, the thing is at valve people can fire you if they get together to do so, in her case someone didn't like what she was trying to do with the company, and got people together to fire her, besides Jeri Ellsworth said she did like a lot of things at valve ,and said it works well for software, and game development, but not for hardware, her problem was that she was trying to hire people to do simple jobs she needed people like machinists to take care of the hardware, but valve don't hire people to be on a lower position they don't have positions everybody is at the same position, and she wanted to change it for the hardware team because like she said no one would do the simple jobs so she tried to be a boss of the new people she would hire (she mentions that she wanted to build a team like microsoft xbox team), and that goes against the company book, not saying she is wrong it makes sense to have people doing simple tasks so the people who are really good can use their time for other things, but thats what happen with valve.

anyway I don't think valve is for everybody Gabe even said they have a hard time with people from film because they are used to get told what to do all the time, so its a place for few people most people wouldn't even work in a place like this or would be totally lost trying to find someone to tell them what to do.

Particularly I would like this kind of environment because I would just work on stuff that other studios only let you dream about, and has too much bureaucracy for you to even mention it.

Valve system is great for some things but just don't work for others.

justbefahad
justbefahad

@tomservo51 I guess #2,200 sounds more realistic, because they checked out a total of 2,200 developers (or more, but 2,200 sounds exact).

hystavito
hystavito

@sirchick I'm kinda surprised they ranked so high.  They have that image of being so old fashioned and uptight.  I kinda thought well maybe that's just what we outsiders think, but then there's evidence like that guy that recently left, ah I forget his name, the one who said things on his twitter that Nintendo management didn't like.


But then again, they are iconic, legendary, and a lot of people in the industry right now probably grew up with Nintendo stuff.

grenadehh
grenadehh

@sirchick My friend worked for Nintendo of Europe in Frankfurt for about 1 yearbefore they canned him instead of a guy who actually messed up - he wasn't in game design but worked with their internal programming teams that make tools for the game devs to use. As far as he's described, they're a pretty incompetent lot full of people who don't even have degrees in the fields they're working. Pushing creativity is likely one of many of their problems.

Timic83
Timic83

@GhoX stfu, they're as bad as any other big company that tries to look good through PR.

Tha_Rnar
Tha_Rnar

@Too-DementeD The reason why Activision is nr. 3 is most likely because of Blizzard. There's a lot of people in the industry that wants to work for them, even though their reputation is a bit tainted right now.

grenadehh
grenadehh

@saltlife225 Considering A) You can't even form your insult with proper spelling and B) I would literally pay you money to actually find a gas station anywhere in America, besides Swifty, that has attendants AND they accept tips, I'd try harder if I were you.


C) It's news, you piece of fecal matter, about the gaming industry. Completely relevant.

MAD_AI
MAD_AI

@steaminpotatoes 

Because they're Polish and pay Polish salary, not very attractive to anyone outside Poland. 

sirchick
sirchick

@grenadehh well it shows when their big titles is always related to mario, super smash, zelda and yoshi etc.

I want to see them make something completely new - not just a new character or a new side scroller which is all they ever do, im fine with them, but they need more diversity.


I lost interest in Nintendo a long time ago.... shame really.

If they pay well though - they bound to be in top 10.

saltlife225
saltlife225

If you're not tipping your gas station attendant, that pumps your gas, you're doing it wrong.



Relevancy was dependent on the commenters (I'll submit "ters" now over "tors" even though it's currently being recognized as spelled wrong by Firefox, while "tors" wasn't). Since most of them are Grade A losers and armchair quarterbacks.

steaminpotatoes
steaminpotatoes

@MAD_AI are to me in UK :(, guess that's not what the study is saying though.

grenadehh
grenadehh

@sirchick I completely agree and this is why when my Wii got stolen, I never even replaced it. I never bought a Wii U either.