In what will be the third instance this year, another writer has left Valve. Jay Pinkerton has left the company after nine years working across properties for the gaming industry giant. Pinkerton’s biggest achievements includes co-writer credit on Portal 2 and Team Fortress 2’s “Meet the…” vignettes.
Pinkerton joined the company in 2008 after leaving his position as editor of Cracked.com. His credits for the company extend to basically every big release in some capacity. There was no announcement of Pinkerton’s departure via Valve or himself. The story originated from a Facebook update which saw Pinkerton updating his employment status from Valve. Pinkerton still has yet to address the news through any statement.
Pinkerton now follows his fellow Portal 2 writers Eric Wolpaw and Chet Faliszek by leaving Valve. All men left the company within months of one another. Wolpaw left in February and Faliszek in May. Many have addressed the leaving of these prominent writers as an “exodus of talent”. There was already a trend starting before 2017 however. In January 2016, Half-Life writer Marc Laidlaw left the company after eighteen years.
While no official reason has been given, speculation revolves around the current direction of Valve as not only a company, but as developers. Valve in recent years has shifted focus from single player games and instead has gone into different ventures. Driven by new technology developments (specifically VR) and a keen focus on esports, Valve has moved away from a single-player narrative driven games.
Valve has taken a back seat in terms of development of new projects. The last new game from the company was last year’s VR mini-game compilation The Lab. Before that however, taking away cash-ins and regional variants, the last real release from Valve was DotA 2 in 2013. Narrative driven experiences are not on Valve’s agenda it seems. 2011’s Portal 2 was the last true narrative driven game from the company, the most prominent game all three writers worked on.
Valve is a secretive company for the most part. Internal workings tend to keep out of the media spotlight and this extends to employees both current and former. We will likely never get a full reason directly from Wolpaw, Faliszek or even Pinkerton but many estimate it is due to Valve’s dedication in other avenues outside of narrative experiences.
Valve is by no means in distress following the leaving of key writing figures. The company is still a juggernaut of the industry. From Steam’s continued dominance of the Digital Store landscape to Dota 2 and Counter Strike: Global Offensive still being huge competitive games, the company is in a much better position than most.
Still, the exodus of writers can be disappointing for many fans. If anything, it gives credence to the continued idea that Valve has moved far away from creating similar games to their past. With Steve Jaros being the only writer left, it seems getting some long awaited sequels might never happen. Regardless of speculation, we at SAGamer wish Pinkerton the best in his future endeavours. Hopes are high that he is able to show his talent on something new and exciting in the video game world and beyond.
Credit to Rock, Paper Shotgun to information on story.