Ex-Valve Employee Describes the Company’s Ruthless Internal Politics

Megalith

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Game developer and graphics programmer Rich Geldreich tweeted about the frustrating internal politics he experienced at “self-organizing” companies this week, and while he doesn’t specifically name the employer, PCGamer believes it is Valve, who he worked for from 2009 and 2014. While the company doesn’t operate under a traditional hierarchical management structure, Geldreich paints Valve as “a stressful, difficult place to work, full of backstabbing and manipulation in pursuit of bonuses and job security.”

Geldreich says that "nobody apparently else has the balls, the principles, or the means to push back" and in various ways accuses the press of being pawns of corporations. As for why he does not name Valve directly, Geldreich tells one person that he did not use "the V word" specifically to avoid press. He has criticized Valve by name in the past, however, calling his time there the "worst experience" of his life.
 

Chris_B

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Wouldn't surprise me in the least, Valve seems to be an odd place to work with some of the stories about them in recent years. How people have to "get behind" a project in order for it to get momentum and development (supposedly one of the key reasons why half life 3 never came to be), in other companies you're told what to do and do it.
 

M76

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I read the article on pc gamer, but it just seems random. Doesn't seem like anything to me. It seems to me that his issue was that there were some people who had more influence than others, despite not being official bosses.
So what? Imagine that they're team leads, and then it is like you're at any other company.
 

Chris_B

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I read the article on pc gamer, but it just seems random. Doesn't seem like anything to me. It seems to me that his issue was that there were some people who had more influence than others, despite not being official bosses.
So what? Imagine that they're team leads, and then it is like you're at any other company.

Well it helps if you know who the team leaders are, according to this paragraph its not that clear cut.

Based on what Geldreich is saying, it seems that there is a hierarchy of employees at such places who basically serve as the KGB of the company. They're very powerful, but you're never quite sure who they are or what they are capable of
 

Chris_B

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More proof that, left to their own devices, a group will just fuck around fruitlessly.

Anyone else getting a sense of deja vieux?

I'm getting a sense that if they were to fold in the morning i wouldn't really care. All they care about is steam and diving into steam takings Scrooge McDuck style. Apparently the notion that they've fucked the half life fan base over for around a decade now is never acknowledged. All this "the number three shall not be spoken" shit they constantly spout is just a big fuck you to the fan base that made the company what it is.
 

Rattle

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Valve ? Steam? I gave up on this garbage years ago. Their workplace sounds like every office space and workplace in america.
 

zkostik

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Game developer and graphics programmer Rich Geldreich tweeted about the frustrating internal politics he experienced at “self-organizing” companies this week, and while he doesn’t specifically name the employer, PCGamer believes it is Valve, who he worked for from 2009 and 2014. While the company doesn’t operate under a traditional hierarchical management structure, Geldreich paints Valve as “a stressful, difficult place to work, full of backstabbing and manipulation in pursuit of bonuses and job security.”

Geldreich says that "nobody apparently else has the balls, the principles, or the means to push back" and in various ways accuses the press of being pawns of corporations. As for why he does not name Valve directly, Geldreich tells one person that he did not use "the V word" specifically to avoid press. He has criticized Valve by name in the past, however, calling his time there the "worst experience" of his life.
Sounds just similar to what I've heard about other high tech and game companies (like Bethesda Softworks). Not sure if that's bad or not but they are all about hard dead lines and employee competition which goes far above normal. Maybe it's the case about playing hard to win more, for each their own.
 

_l_

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a company called VALVE and you're surprised there's internal conflict there?
 

pmrdij

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Corporate environments regardless if they are "self-organizing" or not are typically clique driven so I'm not sure why this is a shock. Workplaces can be good or bad experiences regardless of the management model...

I went from a software company that from the Owner/CEO/President down we all maintained a family like atmosphere and everyone had been with the company for 5+ years both in the US and their office in India to working at a company in the top 50 of the Fortune 500 and holy shit this place breads backstabbing, infighting and drama like no workplace I have ever seen. I have always thought this video was hysterical but hadn't seen the contents of it manifest in my daily working life but this place brings the interactions in this to my mind at least 3-5 times a week:


Also I got my son a tour of Valve's new office some weeks ago and honestly I would love to work in that place vs. where I am presently. They had a couple of employees give the tour and neither showed any signs of loathing the job and were really happy with the enthusiasm my son showed throughout. One of the two was a KSP developer that joined Valve last year and was delighted to hear that my kid had played that game.
 

Conman

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What do all these game developers DO there?
When was the last time Valve actually released a game?
And no buying up an Indie developer doesn't count.
 

Maxx

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Wouldn't surprise me in the least, Valve seems to be an odd place to work with some of the stories about them in recent years.
If you've read the Valve Handbook and maybe taken a class or two in business administration (plus perhaps have a clue about reality) then you can probably expect that internal social politics will become a bit like Lord of the Flies, but then again Gabe's heritage is Microsoft.
 

Drakeniir

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Backstabbing, ruthlessness, and people climbing the corporate ladder by any means necessary - I.E. Every other company of any size ever.
 

Exavior

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Everyone was assuming it was Valve. However in all honestly it could have been one of a few places. Or it could have actually applied to a few places including Valve.
 

Lenard

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Valve ? Steam? I gave up on this garbage years ago. Their workplace sounds like every office space and workplace in america.
I am just shocked that a Video Game company was not able to completely re-invent the work environment and change culture/ societal norms. They are a video game related company for Christs sakes. how hard can it be to uproot and reorganize western civilization, and human behavior?

Why can't they completely reinvent human behaviors and nature?
 

Chris_B

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What do all these game developers DO there?
When was the last time Valve actually released a game?
And no buying up an Indie developer doesn't count.
I've wondered that for years now.
There was an interview a few years back with one of the Valve devs (Robin something or other, some australian guy) anyway when the subject of dlc for Team Fortress 2 for 360 came up all he could say was "that's a lot of work", he used this phrase a few times in the course of the interview like the actual prospect of doing work for a change was horrifying to him.
 

jnemesh

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Having read through the article and the accusations in it, I am underwhelmed. This sounds exactly like pretty much every company anywhere. "Hidden politics"? Needing a "sponsor" to advance? Having to, you know, actually GET ALONG with co-workers in order to do well with the company? The guy comes across as an asshat, and one that was probably fired with good reason. I used to ride the bus to work on a regular basis and would often engage Valve employees in conversation (yes, some of them ride the bus rather than deal with the traffic mess on 405), I never heard ANYONE speak badly of the company, quite the contrary. Most people I talked with were almost bursting with enthusiasm for projects they weren't allowed to talk about!
 

meltdowner

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Game developer and graphics programmer Rich Geldreich tweeted about the frustrating internal politics he experienced at “self-organizing” companies this week, and while he doesn’t specifically name the employer, PCGamer believes it is Valve, who he worked for from 2009 and 2014. While the company doesn’t operate under a traditional hierarchical management structure, Geldreich paints Valve as “a stressful, difficult place to work, full of backstabbing and manipulation in pursuit of bonuses and job security.”

Geldreich says that "nobody apparently else has the balls, the principles, or the means to push back" and in various ways accuses the press of being pawns of corporations. As for why he does not name Valve directly, Geldreich tells one person that he did not use "the V word" specifically to avoid press. He has criticized Valve by name in the past, however, calling his time there the "worst experience" of his life.
Ex-employee says bad thingz about ex-company. More news at 9, Trump is President.
 

J3RK

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Many software companies aren't great places to work. Especially game companies. Even if on the surface they seem ok, there is always some underlying, unspoken bullshit to deal with. I always thought that "flat" approach that Valve uses was a bunch of crap. Not surprising to hear things like this at all. Four legs good, two legs better. :p
 

meltdowner

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Many software companies aren't great places to work. Especially game companies. Even if on the surface they seem ok, there is always some underlying, unspoken bullshit to deal with. I always thought that "flat" approach that Valve uses was a bunch of crap. Not surprising to hear things like this at all. Four legs good, two legs better. :p
Programming is an unholy business.
 

J3RK

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Programming is an unholy business.
It really seems to be. The only people that I know that do it, and are happy are freelance types that do it for their own projects. I've worked software and hardware QA for MS, Adobe, third party testing labs, and a few game companies by proxy over the years, and even being on that side of things you get a really good taste for how bad the industry is. So glad I got into networks and systems. It lets me work with tech, but out of that political setting (for the most part anyway, some of that is just inescapable at any corporation though).
 

meltdowner

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Ex programmer here. Im a systems engineer now so its much more ... To the point. Make it work and im done! Programming requests from managament can be ridiculous. "Write me a program that will make us millions!!"
It really seems to be. The only people that I know that do it, and are happy are freelance types that do it for their own projects. I've worked software and hardware QA for MS, Adobe, third party testing labs, and a few game companies by proxy over the years, and even being on that side of things you get a really good taste for how bad the industry is. So glad I got into networks and systems. It lets me work with tech, but out of that political setting (for the most part anyway, some of that is just inescapable at any corporation though).[/QUOTE
 
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