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Valve Corporation Reviews

Updated February 13, 2018
32 reviews

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3.6
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Valve Corporation CEO Gabe Newell
Gabe Newell
21 Ratings

32 Employee Reviews

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  1. "BD Manager"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee in Los Angeles, CA
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee in Los Angeles, CA

    I have been working at Valve Corporation full-time (More than a year)

    Pros

    Fun, COOL, hard, working, enjoy

    Cons

    marketing is small and future is good

    Advice to Management

    Stay cool and insist on working


  2. Helpful (4)

    "House of bullies"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Doesn't Recommend
    Neutral Outlook

    I worked at Valve Corporation full-time

    Pros

    A lot of percs due to the constant money stream from Steam
    Great salaries
    High level of talent among most coworkers
    Used to make great games.

    Cons

    The place is run like a school yard without adult supervision.
    Bullies and loud people get the attention and rewards
    There's a definite, though unspoken pecking order.
    Several cliques. If you're not in the right clique, you won't have a good experience
    You can be fired out of the blue without warning, even if you're worked there successfully for years.
    They don't make games any more.
    You could work on developing a project for years and just have it dropped for no good reason other than one of the self appointed leaders decided he wasn't interested anymore.
    They sell you a real bill of goods coming in, that you'll have all the freedom in the world to do what you want , work on things that interest you and that they just want a lot of highly creative people to make great things. But after a short time there you start to see how the sausage is made and what you were told was an exaggeration at best

    Advice to Management

    It's such a poison place that I don't have any advice for them really. Make games again. Get the nerd bullies in line or get rid of them and get back to what made Valve great in the past. Right now it feels like it's circling the drain. But the higher ups there don't really care because they're all rich. I know I sound bitter and I am, but this is my experience there. Some people do well there, but many find the backstabbing nature of the company very stressful and disturbing.

  3. Helpful (8)

    ""Utopia for some but painful when the fit is bad" - emphasis on the "some""

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Doesn't Recommend
    Positive Outlook
    Disapproves of CEO

    I have been working at Valve Corporation full-time (More than 5 years)

    Pros

    In terms of fringe benefits, Valve has quite the impressive repertoire:

    - Good healthcare benefits, including onsite gym, physical trainers, a wide variety of food available
    - Great paternity/maternity benefits
    - Paid annual company trip
    - Laundry, barber and massage services provided onsite

    You get to work with brilliant peers and most peer interactions are generally very positive.

    Cons

    - The flat structure is somewhat a sham. There is a badly hidden hierarchy, and at the top are some very smart people, but there are also some bullies who do whatever they want
    - Awful communication externally and internally
    - Terrible system for feedback and compensation. Annual feedback collection seem to go into a void and not actually taken into account. There was some attempt to revamp this process this year, but unclear what is being changed
    - Constant anxiety to fit in. Everyone around you is anxious about their job and what they're supposed to do, often without clear direction. This gets worse as the end of the year approaches, as everyone prepares for the peer review process. Working with people who are constantly anxious about their jobs takes a toll on everyone, regardless of the great benefit offerings
    - Bleeding talent. With a combination of the reasons above, talent keep leaving in droves, adding stress to the remaining small teams
    - "Fit": This is only meaningful to company rock stars, but there are necessary tasks that comes with producing successful products that people are reluctant to pick up at times because they're not sexy projects

    Advice to Management

    There is nothing I can add here that hasn't already been said before. Valve will continue to do well for now, but there is a severe disconnect with most of the employees and the upper management and there is plenty of general resentment.


  4. "Great company"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO

    Pros

    Working at Valve has been a great experience.

    Cons

    I don't have any cons about Valve

    Advice to Management

    I don't really have much advice. Just do what you're doing.


  5. Helpful (12)

    "Good company - but very slow processing forward"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - MSC CS(3D-Artist, Postgamedev staff) in Seattle, WA
    Former Employee - MSC CS(3D-Artist, Postgamedev staff) in Seattle, WA
    Doesn't Recommend
    Neutral Outlook
    Disapproves of CEO

    I worked at Valve Corporation full-time (More than 5 years)

    Pros

    Free food, smart people, casual working enviornment , gym

    Cons

    advertising flat structure when there actually isn't flat structure, not enough/proper communication between teams, things go through a lot of instances before they finally "come together" or "start moving" - even years, or not at all, management has too much power and directing pace of projects too much compared to well known iconic public individuals(Gabe etc.)

    Advice to Management

    I enjoyed my stay at VALVe in the beginning very much so, was very exciting to be part of this vibrant team. Like mentioned the pros are marvelous and teams can start to feel like a family but the company "changed" over the years, coming to work started to feel more and more mundane as it was only maintenance most of the time, the project restrictions from the leads/management(yes there are, dont believe Valves propaganda ;) ) made me lose this exciting vibe for working there, some old coworker folks started to retire or leave voluntary and made the workplace feel even more generic, the company has started to become a chaotic playground which then again wasnt chaotic cause of aforementioned restrictions and guidelines/project priorities;

    If you were a young developer just finishing colleague and wanting to kick off a career in gaming and it was 2009 - I'd say join Valve. Now in 2017 - Valve is still a good place to get ton of experience and make good connections in the industry, but not a good choice if you want to be creative and speak your mind out. A young dev should be able to push his limits, engage with new exciting scenarios every day, and experience beautiful but stressful flow of game production/design/shipment, sometimes even pull allnighters like I did in my younger days ;). Aspiring devs doing maintenance work is wasted resource and time for these young folks, something no one seems to care about at Valve anymore(from my experience late 2015 - doubt things have changed much though 2 years later).

    So: good company - lost it's "magic"


  6. Helpful (2)

    "Considerations before accepting an offer"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee
    No opinion of CEO

    I worked at Valve Corporation full-time

    Pros

    Compensation
    Work/life balance, if you choose to prioritize it

    Cons

    Recommend chatting with someone who's previously worked at Valve and left before accepting an offer.


  7. Helpful (36)

    "VALVE either succeeds because of itself or in spite of itself. I honestly can't tell anymore."

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - Technical Support in Bellevue, WA
    Former Employee - Technical Support in Bellevue, WA
    Doesn't Recommend
    Positive Outlook
    No opinion of CEO

    I worked at Valve Corporation full-time (More than 3 years)

    Pros

    The best part about VALVE is by far the people who work there. For the most part, they are a brilliant, down to earth and fun group to be around. The laid back office culture is a plus, as is the flexibility to set and adjust your work schedule. The healthcare benefits are amazing and the fringe benefits are some of the best around (free onsite personal training sessions for employee and employee's partner/spouse, yearly all expenses paid trip to Hawaii, free food/snacks, lax control and encouraged use of corporate cards for socializing and team building, etc.) If you are a rock-star in the field that is currently the in thing with upper management, then pay and bonuses/options can be pretty generous.

    Cons

    For lack of a better analogy, I think VALVE can best be compared to a department store window display. From the outside, with your nose pressed up against the glass, everything on the other side looks amazing. It's full of new and exciting things, all perfectly arranged and spotlighted with the outside world in mind. From the inside however, behind the display, you soon start to notice the way things were hastily put together, or the items are for display only and don't actually work. The dust and decay is starting to build up in the areas hidden from view and you soon realize this one display window doesn't necessarily provide an accurate representation of the store behind it.

    While still working at VALVE, I had the opportunity to chat with a number of former employees (including those who left voluntarily and involuntarily) about the positives and negatives of working at VALVE. It's funny how when you are still an employee, you can brush off the critiques and convince yourself everything is great due to the fringe benefits and office environment. Working there, you almost train yourself to ignore your own gut feeling deep down that is telling you something isn't quite right here.

    Cons:

    Lack of senior leadership and strategic direction. Gabe Newell hasn't been actively managing the company for years. Besides playing DOTA games in the office and reversing a decision to ban the game Hatred from Steam, I can't think of anything else he has really done in the last few years. To be fair, I don't begrudge him for this and everyone deserves a break at some point, but stop pretending already and officially hand over the reins.

    Those currently "running" things don't have the qualifications or drive to do much more then let Steam continue to make money. Strategic goals or long term plans are ill defined or non existent. Those making decisions at Valve confused arrogance for brilliance sometime ago. Instead of making products that customers actually want, Valve jumps from new technology or idea to the next like a schizophrenic playing hop scotch. Expect nothing from Valve over the next few years but micro economies masquerading as games and hardware products nobody wanted or asked for. The project I saw the those at the top put the most amount of effort into was having new offices designed. I guess if you are going to show up to work and do nothing but play games and surf the web, your office should look cool at least.

    Compensation. Unless you are a rock star in the field Valve currently favors, don't expect "amazing" compensation. I understand the income disparity between top performers and everyone else is status quo in the tech industry, but for some reason this myth exists that VALVE pays everyone fantastically. It's not true. Especially if you are in a non-tech position, supporting a product or doing any other non-technical work your compensation will be just OK for the Seattle/Bellevue area. Also, if you fall into the latter category do not expect salary matching bonuses, and nobody will ever mention stock options while you are in the room. I think upper management follows the first rule of Fight Club when it comes to options, you do not talk about options.

    Lack of meaningful performance reviews. The peer review system is one of the worst aspects of working at VALVE. It's basically, stack ranking, but the results aren't based on meaningful data. It really is a popularity contest and who can portray importance/being busy the best. Results are then entered into a system and then stacked against everyone in the company, in theory. I say in theory because I saw the results for an entire group tossed and the previous years rankings used for no other reason then the man in charge was upset and decided to do it that way. So basically, at years end when bonuses are released, you are waiting for an email with a number and you have no clue what it will end up being.

    Lack of company employee protections and competent human resources department. I mention employee protection because there really is no standard process for termination at Valve. You want to avoid upsetting the wrong person or having a different opinion from someone in the good graces of upper management at Valve. Problem is, you don't always know who that is or who has say over your employment status. You can be fired by someone completely outside of your group if they have the ear of a senior leader.

    In regards to human resources, previous HR managers at Valve actually functioned as HR, providing feedback, acting as mediators and were generally a good resource regarding performance/standing. The HR team today at VALVE act as paper pushers and fill an office requirement. Since they aren't part of the hiring/firing process decision making, anything goes.

    Personally, after many years of employment, I was let go via a generic email following a group meeting with 1 days notice.

    Advice to Management

    Retire or sell the company. Seriously, it doesn't seem like any of you actually enjoy coming to work and you are all wealthy enough never to have to work again. The value you provide isn't clear, because it sure isn't leadership.

    Also, you have confused your own arrogance with brilliance quite awhile ago. Stop making products people don't want and haven't asked for and listen to your customers.

    If you insist on keeping the flat structure management system, then please implement some actual HR guidelines and protections for employees. Also, implement a real employee performance review and feedback system.

  8. Helpful (3)

    "Awesome Company"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO

    I have been working at Valve Corporation full-time

    Pros

    Great people to work with
    awesome company community

    Cons

    none I can think of. had a great opportunity there


  9. Helpful (13)

    "Considers employees to be expendable."

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee in Bellevue, WA
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee in Bellevue, WA
    Doesn't Recommend
    Neutral Outlook
    Approves of CEO

    I worked at Valve Corporation full-time (More than 3 years)

    Pros

    Great benefits and competitive pay.
    Good work life balance.
    Unlimited PTO.
    Fully stocked kitchens and free personal training.
    Flexible hours.

    Cons

    Flat company structure allows for cliques and messy office politics.
    They treat all of their employees as though they are expendable.
    Benefits do not make up for the unappreciative company leaders.

    Advice to Management

    Treat your employees with respect and appreciation.


  10. Helpful (4)

    "little problems with the place"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO

    Pros

    its a great company i wish it had

    Cons

    THERE IS NO HALF LIFE THREE


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