Edinburgh studio behind golf game secures investment from major industry figures

A Bafta-nominated games studio based in Edinburgh has secured significant financial investment from major industry figures as it looks to roll out new titles.

Chroma Ventures, the investment arm of Dundee-based 4J Studios, has invested a seven-figure sum in the capital’s Ant Workshop, which will allow the firm to devote more time and resources to developing Dungeon Golf, a concept the team recently created.

Ant Workshop was founded in 2015 by Tony Gowland. A games designer with more than 20 years’ experience, he had held senior positions at Rockstar Games - where he worked on major global hits such as Grand Theft Auto: Stories series and Red Dead Redemption - and at Activision Blizzard, which Microsoft recently agreed to acquire in a bumper, multi-billion-pound deal.

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Gowland’s vision for his own studio was to focus on developing original intellectual property (IP) with a quirky sense of humour.

Tony Gowland of Ant Workshop with Paddy Burns and Chris van der Kuyl of Chroma Ventures.Tony Gowland of Ant Workshop with Paddy Burns and Chris van der Kuyl of Chroma Ventures.
Tony Gowland of Ant Workshop with Paddy Burns and Chris van der Kuyl of Chroma Ventures.

The company’s first title was Binaries, a Bafta-nominated puzzle platform game, which was followed by the Scottish summertime simulator Taps Aff, and most recently the Apple Arcade launch title Dead End Job, a 1990s cartoon-style shooter game.

Gowland will recruit two new full-time employees and additional freelance talent to supplement his existing team of eight developers.

The investment from Chroma Ventures will see its principals, Paddy Burns and Chris van der Kuyl, join Ant Workshop’s board as directors. In 2005, Burns and van der Kuyl founded Dundee-based game developer 4J Studios, which is best known for developing Minecraft for Microsoft, Sony and Nintendo games consoles.

Gowland said: “I’m incredibly excited for the future and what Ant Workshop will be able to achieve with Chroma Ventures’ investment. It not only allows our team to focus exclusively on making our new IP and games the very best they can be, but enables us to tap into the vast experience Chris and Paddy bring, both in terms of developing games and businesses.

“The idea for Dungeon Golf stemmed from a family holiday and watching my six-year-old daughter playing mini-golf with my mum. It struck me that a game like that is a great leveller in that everyone understands the basic concept and regardless of age or ability you can all have fun playing together.

“We then started to imagine how some of the classic characters found in dungeon crawler games would perform on a golf course and quickly realised we could have a lot of fun mashing the two worlds together.”

Ant Workshop becomes the latest addition to a Chroma Ventures’ portfolio that includes interests in two Dundee-based games studios in Stormcloud and Puny Astronaut, augmented reality technology company Blippar, commercial insurance distribution and data platform Broker Insights, and television analytics provider TVSquared.

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Van der Kuyl, principal of Chroma Ventures, said: “Tony is an experienced and highly talented designer who has gathered an exceptional team around him to deliver great content across multiple platforms.

“We love their work and the quirky sense of humour that runs through the games they develop. They make games most parents would be happy for their kids to play and that they could find themselves drawn into quite quickly too.”

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