Noodle Cat Games, the studio founded by ex-Epic devs, has reported that they have raised $4.1m in funding courtesy of Makers Fund, and with additional investment from 1UP Ventures as well as investor Matthew Ball’s Epyllion. The remote-first studio is built around the principles of flexible working and developer-friendly practices that prioritise employee wellbeing, to counteract a culture of demanding working conditions for game devs. Their approach includes remote-first policies and a four-day work week as well as equitable compensation for all employees.
At the time of the studio’s opening, CEO David Ryan Hunt wrote about the mission statement of Noodle Cat Games, and the experience that led him to open it “Yet, with each passing year, while the industry makes great forward strides in technology and creativity, I do not see matching improvements in how we work day to day. Our industry is notorious for demanding immense personal sacrifices in order to get a game to the finish line. Usually, it’s not malicious. The time pressure and fleeting nature of financial success make it easy to stack one seemingly minor sacrifice on top of another. I’ve seen this grind too many coworkers to dust.”
Vindication for ethical practices
It can often be difficult for accepted practice to shift, especially since pushing devs harder has become essentially accepted in the gaming industry. But if the investment in Noodle Cat Games is any indication this attitude is changing, albeit slowly. This is reinforced by founding partner at Maker’s Fund, Jay Chi’s statement.
“David and the Noodle Cat team impressed us with their commitment to reinvent the way the games industry approaches the development process. We are proud to support their mission to prioritise employee wellness and creativity alongside their passion for making meaningful cooperative gameplay experiences.”
Previously we’ve spoken to a wider array of game developers about their own company culture and how this reflects their work. Recently it was Frank Keienburg at Supercell, who related how their sense of equality and flat structure informs their work at the studio.