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Minecraft duo make seven-figure investment in Dundee games studio

Minecraft entrepreneurs Paddy Burns and Chris van der Kuyl have made an investment in Dundee-based Stormcloud Games.
Minecraft entrepreneurs Paddy Burns and Chris van der Kuyl have made an investment in Dundee-based Stormcloud Games.

The Dundee tech duo behind the global success of Minecraft have made a seven-figure investment into another city games studio.

Chris van der Kuyl and Paddy Burns, owners of 4J Studios, have purchased a stake into Stormcloud Games.

The funding will allow Stormcloud to start development on games ideas that were conceived during lockdown.

Stormcloud Games was founded in 2012 by Frank Arnot, who remains the majority shareholder.

Frank Arnot, founder of Stormcloud Games, has received investment from the Minecraft tech duo.

He has built a dozen-strong team of experienced developers in the decade since its launch.

Stormcloud has gained considerable plaudits for its family-friendly titles. These include BAFTA-nominated games based on the bestselling children’s books The Gruffalo and Room on the Broom.

Looking to grow workforce

Mr Arnot anticipates his team will need to grow by around 50% over the next year, as development progresses.

He said: “Given the challenges we’ve faced in the past year with the pandemic, it feels particularly good to be part of a wider community of games developers working in similar genres.

“To be doing so with Chris and Paddy’s support – both financially and practically – is a real bonus.

The Stormcloud Games team in 2014 with The Gruffalo game. Back left to right: Frank Arnot, Andy West and Dave Guthrie with seated Pat McGovern.

“I trust and value their opinions – which is why we started talking about this in the first place.

“They trust in our team’s ability to do the work and to do it in the right way.”

Other Stormcloud titles include Paper Zoo, Paper Ocean and Paper Pets, which also earned a BAFTA nomination.

Last year, in partnership with NatWest Group, Stormcloud launched Island Saver, a financial education game for children. Downloads total more than 2.7 million.

‘They know instinctively what works’

The shareholding is through Mr van der Kuyl and Mr Burns’ investment arm Chroma Ventures.

Launched earlier this year, it backs companies developing and deploying innovative technology and data-led businesses.

Mr Burns said: “We’ve known Frank and the Stormcloud team for many years and have followed their recent successes closely.

Chris van der Kuyl, with his business partner Paddy Burns, has used their Minecraft millions to make other tech investments.

“Stormcloud has excelled in producing family-friendly games that everyone loves to play.

“When Frank shared their latest new games ideas with us, we decided that we wanted to help enable him and his team to develop them.

“What sets Stormcloud apart is the depth of experience in the team, many of whom have been making games for nearly 30 years.

“They know instinctively what works and what doesn’t and make original content in a style that is distinctly their own.”

Chroma Ventures investments

Chroma Ventures’ portfolio includes another Dundee-based indie games studio in Puny Astronaut.

Other investments are augmented reality technology company Blippar, ready meal provider Parsley Box and insurance platform Broker Insights.

They acquired a 10% holding in Dundee-based Ace Aquatec last year.

The pair also own the Water’s Edge office development at City Quay.

It is almost 10 years to the day since 4J Studios started discussions with Minecraft creator Mojang about making console editions of the game.

4J Studios subsequently developed Minecraft for Microsoft, Sony and Nintendo games consoles.

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