New Documentary Claims Valve’s Policies Are Causing Problems


A new documentary by People Make Games claims that Valve’s structure-less atmosphere lacks diversity, leadership, and causes a plethora of problems.

Valve’s unique corporate structure has been a hot topic of discussion for years, and the company famously states there are no bosses. In a recent documentary, employees interviewed by People Make Games claim this structure has led to a lack of diversity and a poor record of shipping games from the massive company behind the PC gaming platform, Steam.

A famous token image of working at Valve is the wheeled desk, and the company embraces a culture that allows employees the freedom to switch projects at will. On paper, Valve sounds like an incredible place to work, free of the stifling corporate bureaucracy present at many large tech companies. This freedom within the workplace is the catalyst that allows Valve to create award-winning gaming hardware.


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However, PC Gamer reports that during a recent People Make Games (an investigative channel that explores game development) documentary, Valve employees had a different take on the structure-less nature of Valve’s work environment. Two Valve employees claim that the environment is akin to Lord of the Flies, largely because of a stack ranking system where employees rank one another yearly. Via a series of meetings, employees rate one another which can ultimately lead to salary increases which are then approved by Valve’s board of directors.

More than one interviewee was concerned about Valve’s lack of diversity, stating that compared to other game development companies, white men largely dominated Valve. While Valve is secretive, sometimes registering mysterious trademarks without explanation, it appears they also shun diversity within any of their projects. One employee said Valve rejects any project that embraces diversity by claiming these ideals don’t add value to gaming.

While gamers crave more titles like Half-Life: Alyx, Valve’s corporate structure is a mystery to many. Employees said that Valve’s silence during the height of the Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement led many indie developers to pull their games from the platform. Valve never released a statement to support BLM, though it sponsored the Game Devs of Color Expo.

People Make Games’ documentary is an intimate portrait of the inner workings of one of gaming’s biggest powerhouses. It also raises important questions about what goes on behind the scenes within the gaming industry.

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