Valve loses three VR veterans in three weeks to Oculus VR

Following Facebook sale, Oculus VR hires Aaron Nicholls to work in R&D lab alongside Atman Binstock and Michael Abrash.

Yet another Valve virtual reality engineer has left the Half-Life company to join Oculus VR, the firm behind the Oculus Rift headset that was recently purchased by Facebook for $2 billion.

Aaron Nicholls, who spent four years working on VR at Valve, is now working at Oculus VR as a "Scientist." He'll be working out of Oculus VR's Bellevue, Washington R&D lab, Oculus VR said in a statement.

"Moves like this are always a little scary, but I'm very excited and can't wait to start in the morning," Nicholls said last night.

Nicholls is the third Valve employee to join Oculus VR in as many weeks. Veteran Valve VR engineers Atman Binstock and Michael Abrash joined the company earlier this month. Nicholls previously worked at Microsoft for 14 years and helped ship games in the Halo and Gears of War franchises.

For more on Facebook's acquisition of Oculus and what it means for the future of VR, check out GameSpot's roundup of everything you need to know.

Got a news tip or want to contact us directly? Email news@gamespot.com

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Eddie Makuch

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

It is outstanding to me how many people think valve is releasing a vr set. Valve has been collaborating with OR since the beginning and in many ways the current VR set from Oculus is as much valves as it is OR. Valve has stated over and over that they are not making a VR headset and instead helped push OR into its current state. I love seeing all these comments from people assuming OR is stealing from valve. LOL they've been collaborating from the start guys do some research.  

daikkenaurora12
daikkenaurora12

Its that money baby.  They know the money train is in the station and they are going to get their ticket.

jski
jski

I like Valve, and I love Steam, but I sometimes wonder if their relaxed management structure is leading them towards being a stagnant producer. Lets face it, there is not much coming out of Valve these days in terms of games. Steambox, Steam OS, and the new controllers are great, but not if they don't produce anything to play with them. There is also an obvious lack of communication with the public in general. That is their perogative, but it is also good to stay relevant and in the public eye. Give us something to anticipate.

lfebaggins
lfebaggins

This is the best thing for both parties.  Valve needs more of their VR team to jump ship so they stop tackling on 51385193 side projects and focus on the stuff that matters.  Oculus needs more competent VR engineers like Nicholls, Binstock, and Abrash if they want their product to have any success.

GameFan1983
GameFan1983

I never imaged there would be a day when mark zuckerberg's face became relevant on gaming news, but he's indeed now.

Bond_Villain
Bond_Villain

... and Oculus Rift loses 7,546,112 fans

xcollector
xcollector

Maybe valve should use their steam box to power VR

devilzzz1983
devilzzz1983

Get ready for lawsuits saying these employees stole Valve properties.

hystavito
hystavito

I think a good joke would have been to announce that the Facebook purchase of Oculus was reversed, and instead F*ckbook purchased Oculus.  You know until I wrote that, I didn't even realize that an adult service like F*ckbook could probably make far more interesting use of VR tech than Facebook :).

helldragonzer
helldragonzer

LOL those guys will be crawling back when the Steam Machines and Steam OS are out.

sortajan
sortajan

if the future of gaming is virtual reality then fuck it, i need a new hobby. i hear archery is pretty fun

thehikki
thehikki

>Valve virtual reality

Wat?

I'm a long time steam gamer and i have no idea wtf is a VR or this Occulus gimmick. as far as i'm concerned it's another scheme to print monies out of thin air.

Also, who even uses failbook anymore? It's the myspace of the now.

GreenvaleXYZ
GreenvaleXYZ

Okay, and I'm a time travel veteran.

Maybe people would be less cynical about the Oculus VR acquisition if Oculus and/or Facebook would start talking about real, specific plans for the future, instead of all the nonsense about their dreams and visions and shit.

tonyleo01
tonyleo01

Seems like Facebook lawyers found a way to get around the non-compete clause for these engineers.

vackillers
vackillers

hmm.. I actually feel this is quite disgusting. I know it happens a lot in the business world but just something feels really dirty here for me like now they have "major money" they can start bullying everyone else's shit to make sure they get a monopoly. Thats not in the great spirit of what the OR was created in. This is the sort of crap why people were extremely un-easy with the FB acquisition. 


Now, Valve has plenty of money, I don't know the credentials for the 3 dudes or much about the Valves VR headset but if they were that easy to be poached to begin with then Valve can do without them and can easily be replaced. This won't hurt valve in the slightist with their VR tech and perhaps its better they left now, only working for the money can disrupt your focus on the important things of development.


I still think this is NOT cool though.  


ps. Aren't they under contract? if so isn't that a breach? by both the Rift and the 3 guys leaving?

jhpiv4
jhpiv4

Valve more than likely sent them off with well-wishes, knowing their laid-back atmosphere.

pyro1245
pyro1245

heh. just poaching Valve employees. That's alright; it's not like Valve needs them to make games or anything.

WingChopMasta
WingChopMasta

Good. No point in staying at Valve if they are not actively pursuing VR tech. Give those vets room to play and innovate. 

lorider25
lorider25

3 employees in 3 weeks?


I think we all know what's coming next...

jalfrezy
jalfrezy

I love it how now all of a sudden a new title is "VR Veteran" what does that even mean? And how experienced can they be from Valve, a company with no VR?

McGregor
McGregor

Well, with a $2B buyout and a lot of money backing it, why not. Valve isn't doing much in the way of tech or innovation. Just raking in the cash with Steam.

BrokenChaos666
BrokenChaos666

They got $$$ in their sights. Some people will sell their souls for it. Some will kick their core fans into the mud for it.

Dannystaples14
Dannystaples14

The smell of that $2 billion will make a lot of people's feet move.

Thanatos2k
Thanatos2k

Here's comes Zuckerberg throwing money at people, his solution to everything.

tomservo51
tomservo51

I guess they got tired of Gabe paying them in donuts.

Mudpooch
Mudpooch

"Facebook buys Oculus: here's why you shouldn't worry" I see plenty of reasons to worry...

neowarrior121
neowarrior121

this is somewhat worrying for valve employes are jumping ship like kangaroos on steroids 

bunchanumbers
bunchanumbers

@sortajan Archery is a lot of fun! Been a while since I shot a bow but man... what a blast.

deth420
deth420

@sortajan  I got a compound bow last year, great fun! plus you can shoot it in your back yard!!

sortajan
sortajan

@GreenvaleXYZ  what do you expect them to say? oculus has money. the only real question is how facebook will impact the development process, or the final product (for better or worse) and if they say it won't then we can call bullshit.

punksterdaddy
punksterdaddy

I agree with you buddy.

I shall point out that though, two out of the three that has jumped ship, did so before the Faceboots bought Oculus VR.

For that reason I admire them, as they perhaps wanted to be part of something new and exciting and therefore followed their hearts.

We can now look at it another way... Maybe those same folks are gutted at the news that Faceboobs has swallowed it up!

Whatever their incentives, I still agree with you... It's a business deal that leaves a bad taste in many people's mouths, that has the feel of being both dirty and disgusting. Whether that is the case or not..?

rarson
rarson

@vackillers  

Valve and some of the people at Oculus have been working together since the beginning; they've had discussions since before Oculus was even a company as far as I know. Valve is part of the reason that Oculus exists.

howiex89
howiex89

@vackillers  people change jobs all the time, it's life. Maybe they did it for the money, good on them, they're likely to have families to provide for and if they can provide a little more just by switching jobs good luck to them.

howiex89
howiex89

@BrokenChaos666  some have families to provide for. you telling me you wouldn't switch for a better paid job if it were possibile?

stuff238
stuff238

@berserker66666  It already is too late. The game and series in general is overhyped/overrated. No matter what they create, it will never live up to the hype now. It will be a disappointment and everyone knows it. That is why they will never make it.

xboxoneanddone
xboxoneanddone

you could be katniss if you wanted if your into that stuff..... who knows after a couple a beers and a cute Mexican midget you might have a fun time.

Wej_accept_it
Wej_accept_it

@deth420 @sortajanVery relaxing and helps build stronger arms and back muscles, it's not bodybuilding by any means but it is good for you.

hystavito
hystavito

@deth420 @sortajan  A friend had one ages ago, and yeah it's certainly a lot easier to enjoy than a firearm, especially in Canada :).

xboxoneanddone
xboxoneanddone

That shit is over rated and he is right they will NEVER live up to the hype that retards like you have built it up to be. Get over it