It should come as no surprise that a game studio called Milky Tea is based in the UK. Founded back in 2005, previous hits include Coffin Dodgers and the more recent HyperBrawl Tournament.
It was recently revealed that gaming group Aonic had become the majority owner of Milky Tea, entering into a partnership that offers new opportunities and greater growth. We spoke with the CEO and founder of Milky Tea Studios, Jonathan Holmes, to find out what this partnership means for the future of the studio, being based in the North of the UK and, of course, what to expect next from the team.
PocketGamer.biz: Can you tell us a little about what you have going on over at Milky Tea?
Jonathan Holmes: Well, it’s all a bit secret at the moment. What I can say is that after HyperBrawl, we decided to go in a slightly different but very exciting direction with our up and coming projects. Here we wanted to focus more on making new gaming IPs in very different genres than before that were linked to the teams’ passions as much as our development strengths.
They are both single-player gaming experiences that will bring something very exciting and original to the gaming world. We hope that these will take the studio to the next level. Everyone we’ve shown our new projects to, confidentially, has reacted incredibly well so far! So the early signs are pretty good. Hopefully, we will have lots more to share about these new projects later this year.
Milky Tea recently partnered with a new majority owner, Aonic. Why do you feel this is the best fit?
The team at Aonic are, first and foremost, gamers who are really passionate about the small to mid-sized studios, as this is where they feel the majority of innovation is coming from. Their passion and willingness to help make us a success is abundant, and they absolutely love the new IPs we are working on.
Over the past 18 years running Milky Tea, I’ve recognised that with passion comes determination. With that, we know we have a majority owner who will fight our corner and do their utmost to help us achieve our vision. At the same time, Aonic is building a collective of studios that really complement one another whilst also putting an infrastructure in place for us to share knowledge, skills, and resources. So, it's a combination of things that made this a really attractive opportunity.
Will the strategy for Milky Tea change due to the acquisition?
With Aonic on board, our strategy has just been supercharged in some ways. While our culture and ideologies stay pretty much the same, we hope we will achieve our vision quicker with their support and the new collective infrastructure. We will also have more resources to improve all aspects of the studio and ensure that Milky Tea is an exciting and inclusive place to work where you can fulfil all of your career ambitions.
What potential new IPs could this partnership bring about?
As well as the original IPs that we are working on, the Aonic Collective has access to world-renowned IPs that we may want to explore more of at some point. At the same time, we expect there will also be co-development opportunities with so much talent in the group.
It’s great to see studios that call the North of the UK their home. What potential do you see for studios that are situated away from the usual London based locations?
As a studio head who has had a studio in London and Liverpool, I feel there’s something special about the people in the North in general, and I would probably include Scotland and Wales in that as well. Most of us have this down-to-earth grit and never say die attitude when it comes to our work at times.
That bounce-back ability can be pretty infectious. It's the determination to get up and go again when things aren’t going your way. I’ve seen it repeatedly, and I always think this is why you see a lot of successful game studios, musicians, and actors from this part of the world. Also, the lower overheads of running a studio in these parts, where you can bootstrap new studios, have helped new innovative games emerge.
However, this is increasingly more difficult for various reasons. I wish there were far more to support small start-ups in the North, financial support, incubators, accelerators, and access to levelling up courses, etc.
As someone who works with Liverpool City Council, we are trying to find ways to do more. We believe that we have a really special community of game studios here that we need to nurture and help them succeed on the international stage, and I expect lots of exciting things to come out of this hub in the near future.
Can you tell us what we can expect to see from Milky Tea in 2023?
You can expect to see an exciting new game announcement or two at some point this year! We also have some exciting opportunities to bring more team members on board, and we’ll be getting out to lots of shows. I’m expecting 2024 to be an important year for us as well, so you will definitely see and hear a lot more as we start to open our doors and talk more openly about what we are working on.