Chroma Ventures Invests In Ant Workshop

Chroma Ventures, the investment arm of Dundee’s 4J Studios, has invested a ‘seven-figure sum’ in the Edinburgh-based game developer Ant Workshop, the studio behind titles including Dead End Job, Binaries and Taps Aff, as well as a growing number of porting projects.

The investment which will allow Ant Workshop to devote greater time and resources to developing its latest original concept: Dungeon Golf.

Founded in 2015 by Tony Gowland, games designer with more than 20 years’ experience at studios including Rockstar Games and Activision/Blizzard. Gowland’s vision for his own studio, which celebrates seven years in business this month, was to focus on developing original intellectual property (IP) with a quirky sense of humour.  

Ant Workshop’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 twin-stick shooter. As well as its own IP, Gowland’s team has brought more than a dozen other titles to current and next generation consoles.  

The investment from Chroma Ventures will see its principals, Paddy Burns and Chris van der Kuyl, join Ant Workshop’s board as directors. Gowland will use the new funding to recruit two new full-time employees and additional freelance talent to supplement his existing team of eight, whose combined experience extends to more than 40 titles. In 2021 Ant Workshop received a grant from the UK Games Fund to develop a prototype of Dungeon Golf, in which minotaurs, goblins, and other mythical creatures compete with one another. 

Tony Gowland, founder of Ant Workshop, 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. 

If a game is designed well and genuinely family-friendly, there’s no reason it can’t bridge the generations and bring people together in a way that is fun and appealing for all. If we get this right, I’d love to develop a series with different variations on the theme over the next few years.

Chris 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.

Having a brilliant concept for a game is just the start. Studios need time and space to focus fully on developing those unique ideas and making them the best they can be. We hope this investment will allow Tony and his team to concentrate on this project and we can’t wait to watch it take shape.

Chroma Ventures

Chroma Ventures channels flexible capital into a range of early-stage and established businesses with high-growth potential, particularly data-led businesses and those developing and deploying innovative technology. Ant Workshop becomes the latest addition to a portfolio which includes two independent Dundee-based games studios in Stormcloud and Puny Astronaut, leading augmented reality (AR) technology company Blippar, commercial insurance distribution and data platform Broker Insights, and television analytics provider TVSquared. 

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