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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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Valve is shooting themselves in the foot
By GatoRat on 2/15/2013 9:58:00 AM , Rating: 1
One of the rules of business is to stick to your niche. The temptation to "diversify" is strong, but rarely succeeds. One problem is that it almost always costs a lot more than anticipated and that money drains resources from existing, profit centers. In Valve's case, they have some extremely lucrative intellectual properties which they have, for all intents and purposes, abandoned. Valve's almost open antipathy to what made it successful--Half Life--is astonishing. Portal is one of the most innovative games ever, yet Valve has done relatively little with it.

My observation is that Valve is a poorly run company that largely exists for the sake of existing. It's Gabe Newell's hobby.

By Piiman on 2/16/2013 7:50:17 AM , Rating: 2
If thats the case (and I doubt it is) then I say good for Gabe. A hobby where you can make millions of $$ and give jobs to 400+ people is one hell of a hobby. We need more hobbist like him.

"People Don't Respect Confidentiality in This Industry" -- Sony Computer Entertainment of America President and CEO Jack Tretton

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