Steam Box in peril? Valve lets go of several Android and hardware staff
Several members of Valve's Android and hardware staff have been let go today in a move that could spell trouble for the company's home console, the Steam Box. The most troubling sign for the Steam Box is the letting go of hardware designer Jeri Ellsworth who claimed via Twitter that she was fired, though offered no specifics. Valve offered no response when asked to elaborate.
As CVG notes, Ellsworth was tasked with "making Steam games more fun to play in the living room" and worked primarily on translating keyboard and mouse control functionality to a console controller without interfering with current Steam game designs. Although I'm not familiar with Ellsworth's day-to-day routine, I imagine she played a pivotal role in the conceptualization of the Steam Box. For that reason, her firing is a bit disconcerting.
Initial reports from Gamasutra claim around 25 staff members were let go in "large decisions" referred to as a "great cleansing." Specifics at this time are limited, but it was also noted that these cuts were driven more by "company challenges" rather than individual performance.
Until we hear something from Valve or a former-employee it's impossible to know just how these cuts will affect the future of the Steam Box. Back in January we got a good look at what could be a prototype of the Steam Box in Xi3's Pistin. Valve boss Game Newell was sure to emphasize that the company still had plans for "its own" Steam Box.
While we're saddened for those affected by these cuts, we hope Valve's plans haven't changed too much regarding the Steam Box. The concept of the system is pretty clever, but there are obviously some major hurdles the company and the console will have to overcome -- namely the next Xbox and PlayStation.