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.
Valve hasn't released official word on the number of departures or how this affects its Steam Box 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 a sudden announcement that she'd been fired and was moving on to "new and exciting projects." Elsewhere, the LinkedIn profile of Ed Owen, 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 the appearance of a number of differences on Valve's staff page seen through Diff Checker. The comparison tool indicates the removal of nine employee bios from the People section 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: "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 . We're not going to discuss why anyone in particular is or isn't working here."