In a first for the company, Valve let go an unspecified number of employees across multiple teams including hardware and Android development, according to a report by Gamasutra (opens in new tab) .
Valve hasn't released official word on the number of departures or how this affects its Steam Box (opens in new tab) project, but Gamasutra says it's hearing such descriptions as "great cleansing" and "large decisions" from those let go. "We've seen the number '25' tossed around, but are unable to confirm this," the Gamasutra article claims.
Yesterday, hardware hacker Jeri Ellsworth, who was hired by Valve to join its hardware team, tweeted (opens in new tab) a sudden announcement that she'd been fired and was moving on to "new and exciting projects." Elsewhere, the LinkedIn profile of Ed Owen (opens in new tab) , a senior mechanical engineer, shows an end employment date of February 2013 at Valve.
Though layoffs happen from time to time in the industry, Valve's reputation as one of the most secretive (and lucrative) studios in the business underscores the peculiarity of this development, especially when the terms "layoffs" and "fired" aren't normally associated with a company known for its free-form work philosophy.
We've reached out to Valve for an explanation and for further confirmation about how many people have been let go. We'll update this story if more information arrives today.
UPDATE: Garry's Mod creator Garry Newman tweets (opens in new tab) the appearance of a number of differences on Valve's staff page seen through Diff Checker (opens in new tab) . The comparison tool indicates the removal of nine employee bios from the People section (opens in new tab) of Valve's company page, listed below:
- Moby Francke, Half-Life 2 character designer and Team Fortress 2 art lead
- Jason Holtman, director of business development for Steam and Steamworks
- Keith Huggins, character animator and animator for Team Fortress 2 "Meet the" video series
- Tom Leonard, software engineer for Half-Life 2 and Left 4 Dead
- Realm Lovejoy, artist for Half-Life 2, Portal, and Left 4 Dead. She was also part of the original DigiPen-turned-Valve team that created Narbacular Drop, the inspiration for Portal
- Marc Nagel, test lead for Half-Life, Counter-Strike, and patch updates
- Bay Raitt, animator for Half-Life 2, Team Fortress 2, and Portal
- Elan Ruskin, engine programmer for Left 4 Dead, Portal 2, and Counter-Strike: Global Offensive
- Matthew Russell, animator for Team Fortress 2 "Meet the" video series
UPDATE: Valve boss Gabe Newell sent along his response to Engadget (opens in new tab) : "We don't usually talk about personnel matters for a number of reasons. There seems to be an unusual amount of speculation about some recent changes here, so I thought I'd take the unusual step of addressing them. No, we aren't canceling any projects. No, we aren't changing any priorities or projects we've been discussing. No, this isn't about Steam or Linux or hardware or [insert game name here]. We're not going to discuss why anyone in particular is or isn't working here."