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Several out of work as Valve makes 'large decisions' about its future

Several employees were let go from Steam and Half-Like maker Valve on Tuesday, in what affected employees describe as the company making "large decisions" about its future as a business.

Frank Cifaldi, Contributor

February 13, 2013

6 Min Read

Several employees were let go from Steam and Half-Life maker Valve on Tuesday, Gamasutra can confirm. We've been unable to determine an exact headcount, but phrases we've heard from affected employees describing the incident include "great cleansing" and "large decisions." We've seen the number "25" tossed around, but are unable to confirm this. Affected employees were asked not to speak about specifics, but the impression we get is that these cuts were driven more by company challenges than by individual performance issues. Valve has not responded to our requests for clarification. This story will be updated as we learn more about what happened. Update: After reports started circulating that Valve's director of business development Jason Holtman was no longer at the company, we thought we'd take a look at the company's employee directory (no longer accessible at the time of this writing) and compare it to a version scraped by The Internet Archive from last month. This is by no means an accurate indicator of who was let go yesterday -- some employees we know were never on this list to begin with, and it's possible that some left the company for other reasons in the interim -- but for the sake of trying to find a pattern to who is no longer at the company, we pulled together a roster of those who were no longer appearing as of our last check this afternoon.

Moby Francke At Valve, Moby has been a character designer on Half Life 2 and the art lead on Team Fortress 2. Both titles benefited from his fine art training (with an emphasis on illustration). After graduating from the Academy of Art University in San Francisco, he worked at Lucas Arts as a conceptual designer, and taught figure painting at his alma mater. Jason Holtman As Valve's Director of Business Development, Jason focuses on Steam distribution, Steamworks integration, and game development on the Source engine. Prior to joining Valve, Jason practiced law, specializing on intellectual property and technology issues. Having travelled all over world to meet with current and potential partners, Jason can tell you the best place to park at SeaTac Airport and exactly where you should buy coffee in more than 15 major airports. He has also perfected the art of the "airport gift." Keith Huggins Keith came to Valve from the world of feature film special effects. Two and half years at Weta, five and a half years at Digital Domain in Los Angeles, and a brief stint at Industrial Light and Magic. His handiwork can be seen in King Kong, the last two installments of The Lord of the Rings trilogy, Star Wars: Episode III, How the Grinch Stole Christmas, The Fifth Element, and several commercials and music videos. Keith is the only person in the world who has animated dialogue for both Gollum and Yoda. When he’s not working on projects at Valve, he can often be found in a casino, making a moderate effort to remain fit, or spending time with his wife. Tom Leonard Before joining Valve, Tom was the CTO of Buzzpad, Inc. Before that, he spent five years at Looking Glass Studios where, as Lead Programmer, he wrote the AI and core architecture for Thief: The Dark Project. Tom also spent seven years working on C++ development tools at Zortech and Symantec. He's been at Valve since 2002, working on design and technology for Half-Life 2, Episodes One and Two, and Left 4 Dead. Realm Lovejoy Realm’s father is a Japanese ex-monk. Her mom is an English teacher from Rhode Island. Realm grew up in snowy Nagano, Japan, and later moved to Washington State. She attended DigiPen Institute of Technology, got an AAA in 3D Computer Animation, and was part of the DigiPen team that made Narbacular Drop for its senior project. She interned at Nintendo Software Technology before joining Valve’s Portal team. Now she works on videogames full-time and spends her free time writing and illustrating. Marc Nagel At age 19, Marc was a Game Counselor at Nintendo of America. After years of helping people play games, he decided he wanted to help create some. He wound up at Sierra Entertainment - as a test lead for six years. The highlight, of course, was working on Half-Life - and also on Opposing Forces, Counter-Strike, Blue Shift, and many patches. When Sierra shut down, Marc headed to Microsoft. Then Valve snagged him. Now he’s back in the land of the living making sure that the zombie you kill blows up real good. Bay Raitt Before joining Valve, Bay led the creation of Gollum's facial system for The Lord of the Rings trilogy. He has worked as a concept artist and sculptor at the Weta workshop and helped setup the creature pipeline at Weta Digital in New Zealand. Prior to moving Down Under, Bay was the product manager for the 3D modeling and animation tools Mirai and Nendo. Bay started his career working for Olyoptics as a colorist on early issues of Spawn, The Pitt and The Maxx for Image Comics. Elan Ruskin Elan has worked in the game industry since 2003. Since joining Valve in 2006, he’s been an invaluable engine programmer, gameplay developer, and generalist curmudgeon. Elan is a graduate of the University of Pennsylvania and Carnegie Mellon University. Matthew Russell Before coming to Valve, Matthew spent seven years as an animator with DNA Productions in Dallas, Texas. His first DNA assignment was the Emmy-nominated Olive the Other Reindeer. He went on to be a character and supervising animator for the Oscar-nominated feature Jimmy Neutron, Boy Genius; a supervising animator on The Adventures of Jimmy Neutron, Boy Genius; and Lead Animator for The Ant Bully (from DNA and Warner Bros.). Since joining Valve, Matthew has worked on Alien Swarm, Team Fortress 2, and Portal 2. He is an instructor for AnimationMentor. He also likes balloons, pony rides, and fruity drinks, the ones with the little umbrellas on top.

Additionally, Jeri Ellsworth -- who was, we understand, designing game controller prototypes, has publicly stated that she's seen her last day at the company. Update 2: While Valve still hasn't replied to our requests, co-founder Gabe Newell just released a statement to Engadget, expressing that the company has not canceled any projects. "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," he said.

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