Valve have confirmed that a shake-up has taken place within the studio and has resulted in a total of 13 employees being laid off. While some were VR Engineers, one of them happened to be Magic: The Gathering creator and Artifact Lead Designer Richard Garfield.
The latter was confirmed by Artibuff after they reached out to Garfield and he provided the following statement:
Yes, contractors included 3 donkeys, which is me and Skaff Elias. Thanks for the warning about publishing, and the offer to keep information private – that won’t be necessary.
We weren’t surprised by the layoff considering how rocky the launch was, the team was enthusiastic about the game and were confident that they had a good product but it became clear it wasn’t going to be easy to get the game to where we wanted it. The layoff makes sense for a number of reasons. To name a couple; now that the game is out there time is more critical, so more voices within the team that you have to navigate may not be as good as making less considered decisions faster. Another – the expertise that 3 donkeys brought is less critical after listening to us for 4+ years.
Both Skaff and I remain optimistic about the quality of the game and have offered our feedback and advice in an ongoing gratis capacity simply because we would like to see the game do as well as we think it can. We enjoyed working with Valve and I was impressed with their relentless focus on the quality of the game and experience being offered to the player.
It is unknown if the planned Million Dollar Tournament has been delayed or cancelled as a result.