It's apparently been a rough week for a few unlucky folks in Bellevue, Washington. Rumors are swirling about a round of layoffs undertaken by Steam purveyor and Half-Life 2: Episode Three procrastinator Valve Software. GamaSutra has a good collection of details, including a list of staffers who've disappeared from Valve's staff page.
Among those seemingly laid off: Valve's Director of Business Development, a couple of former Weta animators (including one who also worked at Industrial Light and Magic), a game test lead, and an AI programmer who joined Valve back in 2002. Oh, and Jeri Ellsworth, the former head of Valve's hardware skunkworks. Ellsworth confirmed her departure on Twitter yesterday with the words, "Yup. Got fired today. Time for new exciting projects."
I don't see much of a pattern in the layoffs, but the cuts are nevertheless said to go deep. GamaSutra quotes unconfirmed talk about a "great cleansing" and "large decisions" that may have seen up to 25 employees lose their jobs. Ouch.
There's been so much buzz about these firings that Valve founder and CEO Gabe Newell took the unusual step of commenting on the rumor yesterday. In a statement sent to Engadget, he explained, "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."
Hmm. Well, here's hoping Valve isn't going through dire straits. I think we're all eager to see the company's Linux and Steam Box projects come to fruition. Episode Three coming out some time before the heat death of the universe would be nice, too—but hey, let's not get ahead of ourselves.