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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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By Milliamp on 2/15/2013 2:33:53 AM , Rating: 2
Replying to update, but I wanted to respond to you criticizing their future strategy as too similar to the last 10 years.

What is so wrong with PC gaming right now? I'm buying a lot of really good games and I think I'm getting a lot of value.

The problem is companies are trying to shut out valve by controlling the whole environment and all software sales for their platform. Valve who is mostly just looking for a means to keep distributing games is absolutely the good guy in this.

By NellyFromMA on 2/15/2013 2:17:51 PM , Rating: 2
I'm not really saying PC gaming is somehow not ok in its current state.

What i AM saying is that Gabe's vision does not differ in any meaningul way, other than defining a couple of Hardware tiers that could very easily already be done today and all games support configuration of video settings so non-issue as it stands.

My point is that just because WinRT and iOS are options doesn't mean Windows 7 and 8 and OS X have suddenly vanished and we'll never see them again.

Consumers will decide that, and I just doubt they will decide en masse to abandon those platforms. We just need lighter mobile Os'es not replacements for our full-fledged systems.

Gabe wants to paint the picture that the sky is falling, but its not. He only thinks so and is trying to ride a train of controvery that frankly doesn't actually exist.

Valve can sell game instore. MANY APPS on iOS and WinRT to this. Its allowed. How dare they want a peice of the pie you say? Different topic altogether.

Saying Steam cannot exist in these envorinments is a lie. Saying GGabe's vision for gaming and computing is somehow different than whats already been out there is also not true.

Explain to me what Valve is going to do to fundementally change gaming? Maybe someone can do that without downrating me to hide the truth lol

By NellyFromMA on 2/15/2013 2:31:55 PM , Rating: 2
Also, don't get me wrong; I don't hate Valve or Steam, as I mentioned before.

Rather, I think Gabe is not suited to carry through the vision he outlines and don't personally beleive its ambitious compared to the state of PC gaming as it currently has been for 10 years.

Ironically, I find it only ambitous in the sense that it is so outside of Valve's strong suit and after following up on details thusfar, I'm very unconvinced that there's even a need for a Steam box other than Gabe's ego being shunted by the world evolving around him.

It's an opinion. One I'm not ashamed to have either. Do I want Steam to succeed, sure why not. I don't care if they do or don't all that much because frankly Id on't think they've done anything so amazing that they are somehow a leader in gaming.

Bottom line is Gabe is angry because if he wants to expand into the mobile space, he's gonna have to pay Apple or MS a peice of the pie because thats where mobile is trending and infact already at. He doesn't like this because he has no alternative, so he's trying to make an option for himself. Great. Do I think he's going to execute it well. No.

"What would I do? I'd shut it down and give the money back to the shareholders." -- Michael Dell, after being asked what to do with Apple Computer in 1997

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