Why we invested in IGC

We’re fascinated and endlessly curious about founders that are pushing the boundaries of AI/ML, gaming & media & ClimateTech. InGameCollectables (IGC) has managed to feed two birds with one stone!

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We’re fascinated and endlessly curious about founders that are pushing the boundaries of AI/ML, gaming & media & ClimateTech. InGameCollectables (IGC) has managed to feed two birds with one stone!

IGC makes next-generation collectables from customised characters & assets created in a game. Their proprietary machine-learning technology prepares game-created avatars for on-demand, one-off collectable manufacturing.

We first came across Craig back in May of 2022. It was just an idea then, but the vision of the convergence of the physical and virtual worlds through in-game collectables was something that raised our eyebrows immediately having been lovers of all things gaming.

Fast forward to the present day, and Craig has brought on his Co-founder, Constant, and the duo has built the first iteration of their product(s), partnered with several video game studios across Aotearoa, NZ, and have the building blocks together to deliver super high-end, high-fidelity collectables to the gamers all across the globe!

Let's dive further into what IGC does.

Firstly, how are in-game collectables manufactured and sold today?

A heavily fragmented industry that actually promotes separation

You would think that because Intellectual Property (IP) lies with the game studios that they would be the ones creating and manufacturing collectables of their own IP. However, this is completely wrong. Gaming studios and owners of creative IP license out their stuff to contract manufacturers who have the technical know-how to design, manufacture, distribute, and, ultimately, sell collectables to game enthusiasts.

The reason it has been done this way for so long is a matter of risk. It's a huge risk (financially) for gaming studios and creative IP holders to manufacture, market and sell their figures to an audience without knowing the demand for it prior. That's why they hand all the risk over to the manufacturers to sell and just take a licensing cut/royalty on every unit sold.

Plus, it's also all about resources and focus. Studios and IP holders want to make critical decisions based on what will produce the highest return. Most of the time that is focusing on developing new and existing IP through more games, not manufacturing collectables that have lower margins than the game itself. Although adjacent products have their perks (which we will cover shortly), there are only so many decisions that can be made by studios, and they need to be the ones that have the highest impact on the bottom line.

This is initially where we see the disparity between the physical and digital video game worlds.

A need and demand for adjacent interaction from a game

For gaming studios to win nowadays, pure game sales can only get you so far (other than in a few cases). What really drives up value and stickiness is the adjacent products sold in relation to a specific game that keeps players returning to that game for years on end. Some examples of these are:

  • Star wars merchandise and products (both physically and digitally)

  • Physical Pop figures from well-known games

  • LEGO sets of popular games like the Horizon game series

These adjacent products are reinforcement vehicles for gamers, which makes you want to play a game over and over again (I've been caught in this trap many times and boast a pretty cool collection myself.)

How can we solve this problem with IGC?

IGC seamlessly combines the physical worlds of game collectables with their digital predecessors in holy matrimony. Their technology allows game studios (and eventually gamers) to turn their in-game assets and models into hyper-accurate, 3D Print-ready collectables. They are then able to fulfil that order and have a finished product arrive directly at a buyer's door with a click of a button. This can be done either inside a game or outside, depending on the studio.

Why is this significant? This is because you cut out the middleman (manufacturers), as well as solve for the demand problem (not knowing if the collectables will actually sell until they're in stores).

This unlocks a myriad of benefits for both upstart gaming studios, but also established studios:

  1. Increased (and new) revenue & profit streams for gaming studios through increased revenue share and new product offerings; and

  2. A much better user experience and immersion for gamers if they can purchase products within the game AND also have collectables that they have personally designed themselves.

EXAMPLE: Imagine you're playing a game where you have a character that you can customise to look how you want them to. You can also fit them with unique pieces of armour and weapons that only your character owns since you acquired them through achievements that were completed in the game. This is essentially your 1 of 1 character. With IGC, you can now make this character come to life; something that couldn't have been done before.

The timing is here and now.

This can now only be done now with the progression and evolution of AI & machine learning. NeRFs (neural fields), SDFs (signed distance functions) and generative AI are the basis for what IGC is today. Traditional gaming studios would need to spend hours or days to re-create in-game models and characters to be 3D print ready. Because these in-game assets are optimised to display digitally, the time that would need to be spent to create these as 3D-print-ready collectables is boundless.

Likewise, there has never been a better time to be a part of the convergence of media, content & gaming. We see huge tailwinds with video gaming becoming mainstream and providing adjacent content in the form of films, TV & physical merchandise. This has only accelerated in recent years with some examples like the "The Last of Us" tv show on HBO, the highly successful "Arcane" animated series on Netflix, and the Avatar IP being utilised in film sequels, but also gaming too.

Meet Craig & Constant

Co-founders of IGC, Craig & Constant, have a commercial pedigree that very few have.

Craig Herbison: Co-founder & CEO

Craig has had several decades of experience across various operating roles in sales and marketing and, most recently, as CEO.

Craig was most notably the former CEO of Plexure, a publicly listed company on the NZX, where he grew topline revenue six-fold during his tenure. Craig has also served as a Director at BNZ, Interim COO at Laybuy, and Head of Marketing at Spark, to name a few.

What you may not know about Craig, however, is that he is a hardcore gamer and has a kickass digital collection of DOOM Slayer collectables which he has amassed over hours of grinding achievements.

IGC is really the birthchild of Craig, which he had ideated and shared with Hillfarrance in early 2022.

Constant Meiring: Co-founder & CTO

Constant is the technical whizz behind IGC's technical moat. Having been the Head of Product at Laybuy and Group Product Manager at Paloma, Constant has decades of experience in product and engineering and building companies from the ground up. At Paloma, Constant was responsible for the in-house development of the products for Marmalade and Chemdloud, which are both successful ventures to date.

Constant is also an avid gamer who is currently slowly making his way through Elden Ring when he has any spare time (which is not much).

Please give a warm welcome to both Craig & Constant! If you're a gaming studio or gaming publisher looking to offer awesome collectables to your customers, reach out to the IGC team here: hello@igc.studio