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Valve Lays Off 13 Employees Including Engineers Working In VR

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Valve has fired 13 employees who were believed to be working as part of its VR team. The gaming company, however, said the lay offs do not represent major changes within the company.  ( Valve | YouTube )

Valve announced that it has fired 13 full-time employees and contractors, who were believed to be part of the company's VR hardware division.

Doug Lombardi, VP of Marketing and spokesperson for Valve, confirmed that the company has indeed let go some of its staff, though he did not reveal the team they were from.

"Last month, 13 full time employees were let go and a portion of our contractor agreements were terminated," Lombardi told The Verge. "It's an unfortunate part of business, but does not represent any major changes at the company."

Lombardi went on to thank the former employees for their contributions to the company and wished them well in their future endeavors.

While Valve did not say whether the fired workers were from its virtual reality team, VR developer Nat Brown confirmed via tweet that he is no longer part of the company.

"Ohai [sic]. So as of 7 Feb I'm no longer doing VR at Valve," Brown wrote"If I left your question unanswered or your bug unfixed, DM or natbro@gmail.com. Happy to help connect you with good folks still there! Kthxbye!"

Rob Rydberg also worked on VR technologies at Valve. He was still listed as part of the company in January, but he has since changed his profile on LinkedIn to say that he has already left.

Rydberg wrote that he worked on "an FPGA-based VR system architecture, allowing for a tethered or untethered VR experience."

From AR To VR?

Rumors about possible firings in Valve's VR division first came out after an internet user by the name of '2flock' posted about it on Reddit.

"They fired like half the Valve hardware team recently," the anonymous poster noted.

2flock, who appears to be a former Valve employee, also hinted at the possibility for the rest of the VR team to get the "Jerry treatment".

Observers believe this could be in reference to ex-hardware designer Jeri Ellsworth, who somehow lost her place in the company after it shifted focus from augmented reality (AR) technology to VR.

2flock has also been linked to earlier reports of leaked VR headsets that the company might have been working on.

Valve has taken an active role in developing VR technologies for gaming. Aside from creating the popular SteamVR software, the company also developed "Knuckles" controllers that can be used along with VR headsets. Compared to other VR controllers, Valve's Knuckles allow for a fuller range of motion for the hands.

There are also rumblings that a new device could be in the works to fit a possible VR version of Valve's massive hit Half-Life.

The company also teamed up with HTC to develop the Vive headset. However, Valve has handed over development duties entirely to the Taiwanese electronics company.

Valve is not the only VR tech developer to lay off members of its staff. In January, NextVR confirmed it had to let go "a number of valuable employees" but said it did not affect the majority of the company.

David Cole, cofounder and CEO of NextVR, told UploadVR that the company was built for market that was thought to be larger than what it actually was in 2017 and 2018.

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