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Steam boss Holtman exits Valve amid layoffs

Company president Gabe Newell insists no projects have been cancelled

Steam vendor Valve has been engulfed by claims that it has dismissed a number of high-profile employees across its business.

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The corporation's chief executive Gabe Newell has said he will not specify which individuals are affected - for reasons he did not disclose - but it has emerged that certain names have disappeared from the Valve employee web page.

Some of the most high-profile employees at the company are no longer listed, from Moby Francke to Keith Huggins, Tom Leonard, Realm Lovejoy, Marc Nagel, Elan Ruskin and Matthew Russell.

The most senior name missing is Jason Holtman, the former lawyer who has spearheaded Valve's Steam business for eight years. A well connected businessman who has been interviewed many times by the press, Holtman has travelled internationally to represent Valve at various games industry conferences.

His departure, like all those who have been deleted from the Valve website, is not official. In fact, the number of confirmed departures is as few as two.

Bay Raitt, a long serving modeler and animator at Valve, confirmed on his Facebook page that he had left the company. Twelve hours prior, the hardware engineer and inventor Jeri Ellsworth claimed she had been "fired".


There is no suggestion, however, that such departures were not handled amicably. Only those on the outside are criticising the company.

As the Washington studio leaves open a vacuum of facts, the games community has filled the void with speculation. Many asserted that Valve had cancelled one of its internal projects, though through lack of knowing which one, all were considered.

When the speculation reached a frenzy, on Wednesday evening, Gabe Newell issued a statement to the press.

"We don't usually talk about personnel matters for a number of reasons," he told Engadget.

"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 cancelling 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 here]. We're not going to discuss why anyone in particular is or isn't working here."

The reaction from the community was largely negative, though the point was clear: it remains unknown why Valve had made perhaps as much as a tenth of its staff redundant. The company has built a reputation as one of the best places in the word to work, and its sudden release of talent is, for some, an act which challenges such a standing.

However, it has been claimed that Valve enters an annual staff review process at the start of the year, and it has been claimed elsewhere that decisions for firing people are made by the whole company.

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