The Scottish firm behind the hit game Minecraft is hoping for another high score with a new instalment for Nintendo’s forthcoming Switch device.
4J Studios, which has offices in East Linton and Dundee, develops the title for video game consoles and chairman Chris van der Kuyl said he was “really excited” to be working on a version for the Switch, which is set to go on sale around the world in March.
He said: “We’ve been working on that in secret for a number of months, and have a special Nintendo room that only certain people were allowed into. It’s an interesting dynamic because Microsoft owns the franchise but because 4J is independent and we have long-standing relationships with the likes of Nintendo and Sony, we can keep the franchise working on all these different formats.”
Although Nintendo’s most recent console, the Wii U, has failed to set the sales charts on fire, van der Kuyl said that Switch, which features a separate screen and detachable controllers, “looks great”.
He added: “I think it’s going to do fantastically well. That format is absolutely right for Minecraft, because it’s something you can pick up but it still feels like a games console.”
4J, founded by van der Kuyl and chief executive Paddy Burns, recently received a trophy from Microsoft after racking up more than 20 million sales for its Xbox 360 machine.
“That award means we are now the most successful game on Xbox 360 ever, and there will never be anything more successful because the console’s at the end of its life now,” said van der Kuyl, who has known Burns since the two met at school in Dundee.
But he admitted that the pair would never have been “arrogant enough” to predict that Minecraft, created for the PC by Swedish developer Mojang, would ever outsell another one of Scotland’s gaming successes, Grand Theft Auto.
“The projections for Xbox 360 were somewhere between 650,000 at the lowest end and the most optimistic was maybe two million. We did the deal with Mojang and Microsoft on that basis, thinking we’d be really happy if we sold one million copies, and we did that in the first week. It’s nuts.
“Paddy and I expected it to be successful, because we got it really quickly and thought the console audience was desperate for a game like this. We knew it was going to work, we just didn’t realise how much.”