Cuphead’s Devs Remortgaged Their Homes To Expand The Game

Cuphead’s Devs Remortgaged Their Homes To Expand The Game

One of the biggest highlights of E3 was the re-emergence of Cuphead, a hand-drawn 2D platformer with a look like the cartoons of the 1920’s and 1930’s. But what you don’t see in the trailers is the very, very real cost of game development.

In a fantastic interview with GamesRadar, Cuphead creators Chad and Jared Moldenhauer revealed that they had to remortgage their houses following E3 2015 to get the funds necessary to expand the game into what they wanted it to be.

My brother and I quit our jobs, remortgaged our houses and began expanding the team. This was our chance to actually deliver the game we wanted to make all along, rather than the cut-scope game we originally planned with a three person team.

The game had to be expanded due to feedback. Cuphead was only playable for the first time at E3 2015, which was when everyone discovered the game was basically built around a series of tough boss battles. Back then – and also at that year’s EB Expo, where Cuphead was playable – the reception was universally negative, and so the Moldenhauer brothers made the tough decision to put their houses on the line.

StudioMDHR, which is the name of the studio working on Cuphead, has 20 people on staff in total. That includes a hand-lettering artist and digital painters, roles necessary to help recreate Cuphead‘s iconic look.

E3 isn’t typically the kind of convention where you get a good deal of raw honesty from developers and publishers about the human cost of game development. It’s always worth remembering just how much blood, sweat and tears goes into games, and if you’ve got a moment you should read Alex Gilyadov’s interview in full. It’s good stuff, and hopefully Cuphead will be too when it launches on September 28 on PC and Xbox One.


  • How can you quit your job AND remortgage your house?

    This is how you get a banking sector collapse and subsequent recession!

    I’m not sure if the gameplay loop of cuphead will ever be worthy of the art style. They came up with a look and built a game around it, which is pretty bass-ackwards.

    • Yeah. That’s a frightening situation when you think about how many other loans are given out in such a scenario. Still, it’s heartwarming that people can take that sort of gamble in life.

      • Yeah, i certainly admire their commitment.

        They were clearly buoyed by the way Microsoft has promoted their work, but isn’t it odd that they’ve had to fund the game entirely on their own?

        I have a feeling that the free advertising won’t necessarily translate into sales, MS will drop them and move on since they gave no skin in the game, and they developer will be left personally ruined.

        To MS cuphead was a visually intriguing trailer to bolster their e3 sizzle reel in lieu of an exclusive.

        But then I’m a cynical prick.

        • Their situation sounds almost identical to the deal Team Meat had with Microsoft for Super Meat Boy (with the exception that SMB was a timed exclusive over a lifetime exclusive), and that worked out well. I’m sure they’ll end up with their money back (the payout for the inevitable inclusion in their Games with Gold lineup has to have a decent chunk of compensation).

    • I would assume they did some jiggery-pokery where they were drawing income from the company they setup, which they setup from the re-financed mortgage – but it definitely sounds like a house of cards…

  • Man, and here’s me thinking this game has been the darling of the gaming industry since it’s announcement… “Universally negative”, damn, all I’ve heard was praise for the game. Good on them persevering, hopefully it actually pays off for them in terms of game sales when it’s released.

  • Eck… I mean its cool it worked out I guess? But this was really stupid risk management.

  • Geez, imagine the stress of ‘creating’ with that much on the line – kudos to them for having the nerve.

    Thankfully it’s had the promotion whereby it sells well, but let’s hope those sales stay as sales and it’s not refunded to death. A gorgeous art style/soundtrack doesn’t always translate to amazing sales – look at ‘The Sexy Brutale’, a game that a lot more people should have played but frankly only me and 3 others seem to have even heard of!

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