Gabe Newell may be meeting with New Zealand leadership to discuss relocating Valve

Newell has been in New Zealand nearly since the start of the pandemic and work-from-home conditions in the US affecting production have been a major concern.

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Gabe Newell kind of lucked out when the COVID-19 pandemic started. When the feces hit the fan worldwide, he happened to be on holiday in New Zealand and ended up sticking around there as the world began taking full notice of the disease. New Zealand has not only allowed Newell to stay in the time since, but also done well at combatting the virus and nearly snuffing it out entirely in the country. Now it seems Newell may be looking to bring more of the Valve team over to the country as he aims to talk to the Prime Minister of New Zealand about developers relocating there.

The discussion in question was revealed in a video on the Valve News Network YouTube channel, where it was noted that Gabe Newell, Geoff Keighley, and other major industry voices took part in a roundtable discussion. Though little of that discussion could be shared due to NDAs, Newell himself supposedly gave clearance to report that he would be talking to the Prime Minister of New Zealand about developers relocating to the country in order to avoid the limitation of work-from-home conditions.

Newell’s conversation with the New Zealand Prime Minister is part of an ongoing campaign supporting the country since he has lived there for six months and is now a legally taxed citizen, a condition for which he has worked to give back through charities and even a concert event in celebration of the country becoming nearly COVID-free.

“Because I've been going on a pro-New Zealand campaign lately, I'm probably going to be meeting with the Prime Minister," Newell said, "and one of the positions I'm going to be arguing for is that, given there is something super valuable that has been created here in New Zealand due to the hard work of the population of New Zealand, there is likely a large want to temporarily relocate production teams into the country.”

Though Newell doesn’t mention his own company by name, it’s hard to imagine he doesn’t mean to move parts of Valve to New Zealand. He would go on to mention elsewhere in quotes that production at his company has been hampered by around 50 to 75 percent due to work-from-home conditions in the US. This is even despite having successfully launched Half-Life: Alyx earlier this year. It’s also uncertain just how much of Valve he might be aiming to move. Whether it’s the whole company or just opening up a new office in New Zealand and bringing some key people over is uncertain.

Regardless, if the above information is to be believed, Gabe Newell seems certain that the future of his particular company and the growth of the gaming industry may lay in New Zealand. Expect more on this story as new information becomes available.

News Editor

TJ Denzer is a player with a passion for games that has dominated a lifetime. When he's not handing out beatdowns in the latest fighting games, exploring video game history, or playing through RPGs with his partner, he's searching for new food and drinks in the constant pursuit of good times with good people inside and outside the South Texas area. You can also find him on Twitter @JohnnyChugs.

From The Chatty
    • reply
      October 19, 2020 7:43 AM

      If that shifts Steam's maintenance window to the middle of the night instead of the middle of the evening, it is a great idea.

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        October 19, 2020 10:02 AM

        Don't see why it would. The time is chosen based on when the fewest users are online:
        https://store.steampowered.com/stats/

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          October 19, 2020 10:16 AM

          But is it the case that the lowest number of users time is because of maintenance? As in, people know when maintenance usually happens so they avoid that time window?

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        October 19, 2020 12:24 PM

        Steam has a maintenance window?

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          October 19, 2020 12:58 PM

          Every Tuesday around 7PM for about 17 years now.

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            October 19, 2020 1:16 PM

            I have never noticed any impact

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      October 19, 2020 7:46 AM

      I assume this means the game developer side and not Steam. Moving that would have a lot of tax implications. They could be worked out, but just means a lot of messy details that would have to be worked through.

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        October 19, 2020 7:29 PM

        Why do I feel that fleeing the country will always work out for a company in terms of tax implications

    • reply
      October 19, 2020 8:12 AM

      lol, this is not a thing
      maybe a offshoot studio or something

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        October 19, 2020 12:06 PM

        Yeah I can't imagine many employees would be willing to just relocate to another country so far away.

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          October 19, 2020 12:11 PM

          Depending on how the election goes on the other hand....

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          October 19, 2020 12:27 PM

          They’re not even trying to relocate. Just pumping teams in and out short term. It screams tax dodge and/or Gabe trying to justify personally being able to stay there longer.

          Quick poll: who actually read the article? :P

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            October 19, 2020 12:32 PM

            Yeah I didn't read it. I apologize :(

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              October 19, 2020 2:09 PM

              Heh don’t apologize to me. Apologize to your good sense. ;)

    • reply
      October 19, 2020 9:40 AM

      Sounds like he’s trying to wangle ways of bringing in teams of developers on a temporary basis to crunch in an office but be short-term enough to avoid taxes.

      Classy.

      • reply
        October 19, 2020 10:51 AM

        Mmm, valve are not really famed for giving a crap about deadlines tbh.

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          October 19, 2020 11:07 AM

          True. But why bother complaining about WFH efficiency and personally lobbying a head of state to import short term teams for anything else? Gabe’s not particularly known for being a hands-on production manager either, so it’s not like he needs them in NZ to work face to face.

          If his claim their efficiency was down 50-75% while WFH is even true, that’s an industry embarrassment. Lots of studios big and small out there, including plenty with fewer resources, who didn’t take that kind of hit switching to WFH. No way that’s not a misdirection for why he is pumping a bizarre plan like this.

          Perhaps since he’s now paying taxes in NZ, he’s trying to establish his work income as being based in NZ just enough to be able to claim write offs. Point is, I hope Ardour laughs him out of her office.

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            October 19, 2020 11:35 AM

            That drop in efficiency kind of makes sense when you consider that the studio is run like a Montessori school. How are you supposed to keep tabs on the chunk of developers who aren't on projects with defined goals and are supposed to figure out what they're supposed to be doing?

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              October 19, 2020 12:27 PM

              This scheme is sure gonna fix that right up. :D

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              October 19, 2020 1:25 PM

              run like a Montessori school lol

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            October 19, 2020 11:42 AM

            He is complaining about efficiency and MS and Sony figured out how to ship consoles this year.

            Sorry Gabe but 🙄

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            October 19, 2020 11:53 AM

            It's definitely a weird argument to make. What's he going to do...ship all of his employees to NZ to stick them in an office? They can't even get into NZ right now (which is one reason NZ is COVID free). So they'll be working remote anyways even if he did move the HQ.

            Any after COVID, then what? Send them all home? I'm sure there's some percentage of devs who're willing to move to NZ for a job at Valve, but you're going to really cut your talent pool if you restrict yourself to devs who are willing to physically be in NZ, and you're going to have some hairy legal costs if you need to pay to get every new hire legal status there.

            The whole plan just sounds either lazy or an excuse to downsize valve into something different - reincorporate in NZ and drop the games element, making it just SteamCo, then spin off the games studio into it's own thing in the states.

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              October 19, 2020 12:22 PM

              Read the article. The headline is misleading. All he is trying to do is get temporary teams of developers in, short term.

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            October 19, 2020 12:00 PM

            i missed the 50-75% claim.

            doesn't that basically scream "we have a poor management strategy" more than anything else?

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              October 19, 2020 12:03 PM

              Valve's non-Steam performance the past 8-10ish years have largely made that case

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            October 19, 2020 12:11 PM

            Well to be fair I never actually read the article 😬

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            October 19, 2020 6:59 PM

            I can believe the decrease in productivity, since the company is run like a college, where people select the initiatives they want to work on. In practice, it means hanging out with the cool kids and doing a lot of experiments and prototyping. These opportunities would be more difficult to come around without face to face interactions and the social pecking order would wane through text

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      October 19, 2020 11:08 AM

      Fucker.

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      October 19, 2020 11:19 AM

      Who can blame him for wanting to move his team somewhere safe, but let's be honest here.. what is a 3-4 years of a pandemic going to do in regards to Valves release schedule... no-zhing..

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      October 19, 2020 11:43 AM

      "Gabe Newell kind of lucked out when the COVID-19 pandemic started. When the feces hit the fan worldwide, he happened to be on holiday in New Zealand"

      Ok putting out there that this is kind of sus. Gabe left for New Zealand right when neighboring Kirkland was getting hit very hard. My family is mostly doctors and we'd been talking about how bad COVID-19 was going to be since late January.

      I can't imagine that Gabe Newell, billionaire, like most other billionaires who are pretty plugged in and have panic rooms in New Zealand, didn't have an inkling of how bad COVD-19 was going to be and bailed right when Washington was getting hit.

      Idk, timing is weird!

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        October 19, 2020 11:58 AM

        Eh, he's talked about it publicly. It wasn't just him, it was a pretty good sized group of people and a trip that had been planned.

        I'm not saying he was unaware of COVID, but he didn't just head out spur of the moment.

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          October 19, 2020 12:11 PM

          It was a racecar driver buddy of his and his partner. Maybe he was like "hey come hang out", idk, but it wasn't a good sized group of people.

          Either way I don't believe for a second that Gabe just happened to take a trip to New Zealand when a plague that people who were paying attention knew was going to be extremely bad hit his neighboring town.

          Gabe's a smart guy, he knows what's going on and he has resources and capital. Bailing to New Zealand right before lockdown hit the US despite his company right about to ship a new Half Life game? :|

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            October 19, 2020 2:30 PM

            I don't understand why that's a bad thing necessarily. It's an exceptional time and we've all gotta make those calls for ourselves, it's not like he's in a business that depends on him for safety or health or expertise to save lives.

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              October 19, 2020 2:32 PM

              Also, yeah, he's a big guy who is kind of older, and it serves to think he might have been worried about the virus, especially during the early days when we didn't know how bad the ceiling was going to get.

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                October 19, 2020 4:22 PM

                He's actually looking a little healthier in the latest footage I've seen of him. New Zealand will do that to you probably

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              October 19, 2020 2:46 PM

              I'm not saying he shouldn't have done it, I'm saying that the "hey guys I happened to be in New Zealand when COVID hit!" angle isn't believable.

              Luck isn't a factor, it was a choice, that's all I'm saying

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                October 19, 2020 3:55 PM

                I don't think it's an important distinction to make.

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                October 19, 2020 4:40 PM

                Why is it not believable? There are like 4M people visiting New Zealand every year, so there would've been many thousands of people in the country when the pandemic hit, almost certainly. Some of those people will be rich. There's no need to assume some kind of conspiracy here. He probably was just on vacation.

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                  October 19, 2020 5:01 PM

                  He left for NZ as the outbreak was blowing up in Kirkland. Almost 20 people died there just in the first week of March. People in the Seattle area were locking down and even put under curfew in certain areas, he left the country.

                  Pretty understandable choice if you're a multi-billionaire with insane capital and resources as well as the common understanding of the medical community that this was very severe. Entire countries like Vietnam had the foresight to lock down all the way back in January. This is all actionable knowledge

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                    October 19, 2020 5:17 PM

                    There were probably many thousands of people who left Seattle for a vacation during that week that had nothing to do with the outbreak in Kirkland. People just go on vacations sometimes. Coincidence != conspiracy.

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                      October 19, 2020 5:30 PM

                      I forgot to note that Valve did WFH for the last couple of weeks of Half Life Alyx's production while Gabe was out of the country, again because of coronavirus.

                      If you want to believe "oh hey let's just go on some random vacation to New Zealand, land of panic bunkers for the ultra-wealthy, while this megavirus sweeps through the surrounding areas and forced my entire company to lock down under mandatory curfew", be my guest.

                      If you have the means and the foresight then leaving for New Zealand is a reasonable choice!

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                        October 19, 2020 6:44 PM

                        I just don't see the need to put on a tinfoil hat because some dude went on vacation in the super early stages of the pandemic when there were no travel restrictions etc.. Like, if he was really escaping to his bunker would he not bring some family members with him?

                        Lol at "land of panic bunkers". Yeah, totally no other reason people would go to NZ. It's not like it's a massive tourist hub or anything.

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                          October 19, 2020 7:07 PM

                          He got divorced about four years ago, so yeah...

                          He left under extraordinary local and global circumstances weeks after entire countries had completely locked down. Again, if you want to think it was just a coincidence, be my guest.

                          "Yeah, totally no other reason people would go to NZ. It's not like it's a massive tourist hub or anything."

                          It is literally where millionaires and billionaires from have been scooping up property over the last decade, specifically because it is isolated from calamities that scientists and think tanks have been projecting over the last decade.

                          https://www.bloomberg.com/features/2018-rich-new-zealand-doomsday-preppers/
                          https://www.cnbc.com/2020/05/15/peter-thiel-new-zealand-estate.html
                          https://www.cnn.com/2020/07/15/business/bunkers-new-zealand-intl-hnk/index.html

                          You see a happy coincidence that he blundered into, I see deliberation and foresight

                          • reply
                            October 19, 2020 7:28 PM

                            He has two sons. He would just leave them behind in the pandemic if he was really escaping to his bunker?

                            You're a bit paranoid dude. Again there were probably a hundred people from Seattle alone who went to NZ that month. You think all of them were retreating to a bunker or is it just this one dude who happens to make video games?

                            • reply
                              October 19, 2020 7:33 PM

                              Hell I personally know someone who got stuck in NZ (temporarily) due to Covid19. This isn't some crazy implausible scenario. It's an extremely popular destination for people to travel to, it's just not that weird that some of those people travelling did so at the start of the pandemic before the scope of this thing really became clear and then they got stuck.

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                October 19, 2020 5:42 PM

                Why not? He was on vacations and seeing how bad it was they decided to stay, money is clearly not an issue.

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        October 19, 2020 12:01 PM

        super sus bro!

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        October 19, 2020 12:54 PM

        I mean nothing would have predicted NZ would do so well on this thing.
        Hell everyone expected the US/China situation to be the inverse of what happened.

        If he truly had inside information I think there would be a much bigger cabal of tech bros / billionnaire elites doing the same thing at the same time.

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          October 19, 2020 1:22 PM

          There's a difference between inside information and actionable information. Not every rich person is going to leave the country to ride out a pandemic but some certainly are.

          Re: New Zealand, they've been having their land bought up by the mega-wealthy for years for "just in case of emergency apocalypse bunker" type situations, the "bunkers" being vacation homes. I just checked and over a dozen private jets had arrived in and around Auckland in February and March, specifically from mega-wealthy who went there to ride out the pandemic.

          Gabe is an incredibly smart guy and it stands to reason that he'd done his research. If normal doctors knew it was going to be bad in January (again, this was a main topic among my family of doctors since late January) then it stands to reason that Gabe would have also known around the same time and then made the call right when it slammed into Kirkland.

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        October 19, 2020 3:59 PM

        Bro he george castanza'd his ass to new zealand. Didn't even bring his family.

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      October 19, 2020 12:07 PM

      I can't see this happening but I can definitely see him opening up an office over there. NZ's dev sector is blowing up.

    • reply
      October 19, 2020 12:33 PM

      Rich (seattle) silicon valley types trying gentrify New Zealand makes sense

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      October 19, 2020 12:41 PM

      Does he just assume everyone that works at Valve will be ok moving to a new country?

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      October 19, 2020 1:02 PM

      Well shit, now we'll never get a new Idle Thumbs.

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      October 19, 2020 2:32 PM

      Smart guy, he's preparing for the end times and he's found a safer location.

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      October 19, 2020 2:33 PM

      WETA has developed infrastructure over time there, I could see that being a part of it

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      October 19, 2020 3:50 PM

      That's where all the Rich People Apocalyptic Bunkers are supposed to be but VICE couldn't find them. Except those 3 they did find that got explained away.

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        October 19, 2020 8:04 PM

        there's a bunch of rich people bunkers in old missile silos in kansas just down the road from me.

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          October 20, 2020 1:22 AM

          I saw a thing on a dude who'd bought an old silo and launch facility and put his family in it.

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        October 19, 2020 9:35 PM

        The hobbit houses are still there

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