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Most of the fired employees come from the hardware (Steam Box) and mobile divisions

Prepping for the launch of its upcoming Steam Box and expansion onto multiple mobile platforms, gaming giant Valve Corp. is making some major changes to its staff, including firing a number of employees.  The software firm -- which became famous for its Half-Life series, its Source engine, and its Steam game distribution network -- has fired at least 25 employees, according to Gamasutra.  At least eight employees disappeared from a publicly available staff registry, seemingly partially confirming the news.

The casualties include Jeri Ellsworth, a hardware engineer responsible for prototyping the Steam Box controllers, and Jason Holtman, who helped architect the STEAM service and handle developer relations.

The bulk of the cuts appear to be in the hardware and mobile (Android) divisions.  While ostensibly the Steam Box is still on track for a release sometime next year, the cuts raise question about whether Valve is second-guessing the leap into the hardware space.

Gordon from Half Life
Valve is thinning the herd.

Firings are very unusual at Valve.

The Seattle-area company is famous for its outside-the-box management strategy.  There are no bosses, no employee at the company has an official title, and there are no cubicles -- employees migrate their desks around the building to wherever they're working each week in organic fashion.

In the past, most employees who didn't work out left on their own terms without being fired.  Gabe Newell -- who The NYT says is at times referred to as the "CEO" of the company, but only by empty formality -- comments, "I get freaked out any time one person leaves.  It seems like a bug in the system."

Valve employs a little over 300 employees, reportedly, so the cuts may represent as much as 8 percent of the total workforce.  Valve employees told Gamasutra that the company is making "big decisions" and referred to the uncharacteristic firing as "the great cleansing".

Sources: Gamasutra, Develop

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Good for them
By Ammohunt on 2/14/2013 3:39:06 PM , Rating: 2
Most companies are afraid to get rid of dead weight. On the other hand this could have a negative affect on morale for the rest of the workforce.

RE: Good for them
By SlickRoenick on 2/14/2013 4:13:14 PM , Rating: 2
How does a company with bosses actually fire employees?

RE: Good for them
By SlickRoenick on 2/14/2013 4:13:58 PM , Rating: 2
still no edit function gdi...

How does a company with no* bosses actually fire employees?

RE: Good for them
By Ammohunt on 2/14/2013 4:36:18 PM , Rating: 3
I guess they fire each other similar to fission reaction.

RE: Good for them
By scrapsma54 on 2/14/2013 5:01:40 PM , Rating: 3
I guess some one had almost triggered a resonance cascade with the steam box and Gabe Newell was like: Nope, not happening.

RE: Good for them
By Mitch101 on 2/17/2013 10:07:47 AM , Rating: 2
The question is did they hire 10%-15% more staff to develop the product and now that its near complete let a percentage go.

At my company we've hired a few hundred people for a large project and when that project is complete we wont have anything for them to do so there will be a big layoff when the project is near completion.

RE: Good for them
By ebakke on 2/14/2013 6:55:07 PM , Rating: 2
Majority vote?

RE: Good for them
By TakinYourPoints on 2/14/2013 6:56:17 PM , Rating: 2
Despite what the handbook says, there's an implicit hierarchy there. Long time employees have weight, Gabe can certainly fire people, and firings can be a collective effort among employees if somebody is a negative asset no matter what team or project they are on.

RE: Good for them
By Totally on 2/14/2013 10:32:00 PM , Rating: 4
Formal letterhead conspicuously placed on desk that reads:

"You've been voted of the island."

RE: Good for them
By kyleb2112 on 2/16/2013 4:14:20 AM , Rating: 2
Some bosses more equal than others.

RE: Good for them
By Piiman on 2/16/2013 7:38:15 AM , Rating: 2
What company is afraid to get rid of dead weight?
Answer: NONE.

RE: Good for them
By LRonaldHubbs on 2/16/2013 12:44:12 PM , Rating: 2
I'm going to assume you either don't work for a large company or are just oblivious to what happens at the office.

When upper management decrees that no new hiring will occur to ensure the budget is met, a guy who is essentially useless can manage to stay employed simply by doing a small amount of work. Lower management would like to fire him, but they wouldn't be able to hire a replacement and therefore would have to offload his work onto people who are already busy. Because he does a small amount of work it ends up being better to have him around than to fire him, even though in an ideal situation he should just be fired and replaced. This happens more often than you'd think.

RE: Good for them
By Mitch101 on 2/17/2013 10:09:39 AM , Rating: 2
Thats generally if they are brought on as employees but if brought on as contractors for a project its time to cut the cord and cost.

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