Valve today confirmed that the company laid off 13 full-time employees and an unspecified number of contractors. The layoffs are believed to have largely impacted the company’s VR hardware group.
Following news that some employees had been laid off at the company, Valve provided an official statement to Road to VR:
Last month, 13 full time employees were let go and a portion of our contractor agreements were terminated. It’s an unfortunate part of business, but does not represent any major changes at the company. We thank those affected for their contribution and wish them well in future endeavors.
Compared to the array of other major companies working in the VR space, Valve has a small number of employees—considering its influence in both gaming and VR—believed to number in the low hundreds. So letting go 13 employees (and an unspecified number of contractors) isn’t insignificant.
The statement came after information from a purported leaker was posted to Reddit suggesting that a large portion of Valve’s VR hardware team was let go.
Valve played a central role in the development of the technologies behind the HTC Vive, including the SteamVR Tracking system which the headset and its controllers employ. The company of course also operates the massively popular Steam game distribution service, which includes a marketplace of VR content and the SteamVR platform on which they run.
Valve is known to be working on next-gen VR controllers called ‘Knuckles’, and purported leaks have pointed to the company working on a new VR headset. The company also previously stated that it is developing three VR games. If or how any of these projects (or other VR projects at the company) will be impacted by the employee and contractor terminations is unclear at this point, but the publicly announced projects (like Knuckles and the three VR games) seem safer than the purported VR headset which has not been confirmed by the company.
Emails reportedly received from Valve head Gabe Newell in response to questions about Valve’s VR direction in light of the layoffs reiterate that the company isn’t changing plans, and confirm that the three VR games are still in development. Road to VR hasn’t been able to verify the authenticity of the emails but has contacted Valve for clarification on ongoing VR plans.