Valve laid off 13 full-time employees and contractors last month, possibly from its VR hardware team. Valve confirmed the layoffs, but didn't specific which department the employees worked at, nor what this means for Valve's future in the virtual reality space.
"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," said Valve in a statement released today.
A user named 2flock posted on Reddit just the day before that Valve "fired like half the Valve hardware team recently... wonder how long it'll be until the remainder get the Jerry treatment." The last part is potentially a reference to Jeri Ellsworth, a former Valve hardware designer who was fired in 2013 after the company moved away from AR to VR.
2flock's thread coincides with at least one Valve VR employee named Nat Brown who tweeted that they're no longer working at the company. Variety also reported that the layoffs affected Valve's VR team.
VR has been a main priority at Valve for the past several years. In 2016 Valve co-launched the HTC Vive headset, and there are rumors of a Valve-developed VR headset in the works. Considering Valve has invested heavily into VR, along with development of the SteamVR operating system, and Valve's comments that there are no "major changes at the company," it's likely Valve is still in the VR market.
Despite these reports, VR hardware is still progressing with major manufacturers like Oculus, HTC, and even Nintendo announcing new VR headsets this year. We'll have to see if Valve's planned headset also appears this year, despite the layoffs.