Minecraft studio pumps money into Dundee games developer

Minecraft firm 4J Studios, which is based in Dundee and East Linton, has pumped a six-figure sum into Puny Astronaut. Picture: Contributed
Minecraft firm 4J Studios, which is based in Dundee and East Linton, has pumped a six-figure sum into Puny Astronaut. Picture: Contributed
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The Scottish games developer founded by entrepreneurs Chris van der Kuyl and Paddy Burns is investing in a fledgling Dundee studio to help bring its first title to market.

Minecraft firm 4J Studios, which is based in Dundee and East Linton, has pumped a six-figure sum into Puny Astronaut – winner of the 2016 Dare to be Digital competition.

Since bagging the Dare award, the start-up studio has been “quietly developing” its first title, Skye, which is described as an “engrossing exploration game for children, families, and casual audiences”.

Burns and van der Kuyl have both joined the board of Puny Astronaut as directors as a result of the investment with the latter taking on the added role of chairman.

Burns, chief executive of 4J, said: “When we met Puny Astronaut, and were first introduced to Skye, we could see instantly that the team and the game had enormous potential.

“Both are a perfect fit for 4J as our philosophy is based on developing ‘games for everyone’. Although the team was understandably keen to bring Skye to market as soon as possible, Chris and I felt rushing it out would be a mistake.

“So, we offered to invest in them instead, which would give them the time, space and resources they needed to complete the game in line with their initial vision and to really do the idea justice.”

Puny Astronaut’s managing director, Cian Roche, added: “We have invested blood, sweat and tears into developing Skye both whilst as students at Abertay, and since we graduated last summer.

“We’re a small, fresh developer and up until now we had no other option but to rush Skye out to market and hope for the best. With 4J’s investment, though, we’ll be able to produce the game we first set out to create, and share our plans with the rest of the games community.”

The Dare to be Digital competition included funding from All 4 Games, while Puny Astronaut was also the recipient of an Unreal Dev Grant.

A spokesperson from All 4 Games said: “All 4 Games originally provided some funding for Skye as part of the Dare prize prior to 4J Studios, who were able to provide funds to make the game even bigger and better. We were happy to be involved at the start and can’t wait to see what happens next.”

Founded in 2005, 4J has become best known for helping with the development of Minecraft. Since 2010, it has been working on the console editions of the game.

Van der Kuyl – one of Scotland’s highest profile entrepreneurs – added: “When Paddy and I met the team at Puny Astronaut we were bowled over by their talent and enthusiasm. We remember exactly how tough a journey it can be to make it in this industry.

“Being able to not just provide the financial backing but also help the team to navigate the spider’s web of the market is something we are really looking forward to.”