Cuphead developer StudioMDHR says other developers should prioritise the mental health of its employees over meeting release date deadlines and crunch. Cuphead‘s new DLC The Delicious Last Course was delayed due to the Covid-19 pandemic, but StudioMDHR’s Maja Moldenhauer said she didn’t care if it took a long time to release if it meant putting the mental health of its employees first.
Maja Moldenhauer, the boss of StudioMDHR, spoke passionately about mental health issues in game development during a recent interview with IGN. Cuphead‘s DLC The Delicious Last Course was originally meant to launch much earlier than planned, but changes in development caused by the global pandemic meant that priority had shifted to the mental health of the studio’s team.
Moldenhauer’s full statement on the matter reads:
“The number one thing, especially through Covid was keeping everybody happy. This is video games. Take your time. Mental health needed to be at the forefront, taking the space and time that you needed, especially over the last two years. We’re like, ‘If it takes longer for the game to come out, it takes longer. Who cares?’”
Moldenhauer continued by explaining her prior experiences working in the industry where this likely occured, stating:
“If we’re going to risk it all, it’s going to be a company that we’re proud of. It’s going to be a company that is all the things, an amalgamation of all the things we’ve always ever wanted. Respect for each other, love and support – things that we didn’t receive in our past jobs. Well, we did, but at the end of the day there was a bottom line.”
Crunch is still an ongoing issue facing the gaming industry, as many developers attempt to push out games for the sake of meeting deadlines and release dates over caring about employee health. The most notorious example of this remains CD Projekt RED’s Cyberpunk 2077, which reportedly had a rushed development period at the cost of employees’ well-being. It remains an extreme cautionary tale for the industry to this day.
Cuphead originally launched in 2017 and was one of the most well-received games of the year. It’s still frequently rated as one of the best indie games of all time, largely thanks to its eye-catching, unique art style and challenging boss-rush gameplay.
Cuphead: The Delicious Last Course launches on 30 June 2022 for PS4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch and PC.