Why we invested in Hashbane Interactive

Rob Vickery

We are excited to announce the second gaming studio that has joined the Hillfarrance Village – Hashbane Interactive!

We are proud to be leading this investment and supporting Jade & Courtney to create their first title, Instinction.


When we are looking for video game studios to invest in, we seek out founding teams who are:

  1. Building games that define and start a new world order within their chosen genre.
  2. Creating immersive worlds that consumers want to explore beyond the game.
  3. Constructing games that we want to play for hundreds of hours.

After speaking on a panel at the New Zealand Game Developers Association last year, where we discussed our gaming investment thesis, we were delighted to be contacted by the team at Hashbane, who are doing all of the above and then some!

Their launch game, Instinction, is a first/third-person, action-adventure game where you play the lead protagonist, April Summers, as she explores a riveting world lost in time. Filled to the brim with dinosaurs and other prehistoric creatures, April must rediscover herself to survive and protect this world and its creatures from those who want to harm and pillage it.


A bit of (pre)history

As mentioned above, Instinction plans to join other legendary games that feature dinosaurs in their storylines.

For all of you Dino-fan gamers out there, it has been 22+ years since the first notable dinosaur shooter game was released & 13+ years since the last iconic dinosaur combat game was released. Here are a few examples:


Developed by Core Design and published in 1996 by Eidos, Tomb Raider and its main character, Lara Croft, laid the framework for all action adventures to follow. The game series has sold over 85m lifetime unit sales and is one of the most valuable franchises in video game history.


Turok Dinosaur Hunter (1997) was an important launch title for Nintendo’s N64 console and went on to sell 1.5m copies within the first month of release.


Created by Shinji Mikami and published by Capcom in 1999, Dino Crisis sold over 4.4m copies, created four sequels and launched a range of merchandise.


Whilst not strictly about dinosaurs, Ark: Survival Evolved is an action-adventure survival game developed and published by Studio Wildcard in 2017. It sold over one million early access downloads and has sold over 16 million copies, making it one of the most popular titles on Xbox Game Pass.

Let’s talk more about Instinction

Built in Unreal Engine, the early build of Instinction is already a sight to behold and has captured the imaginations, and YouTube feeds from gamers worldwide. With over 12m cumulative views on YouTube, 30k+ subscribers across their social channels, and thousands of wish lists on Steam, Hashbane has an IP of potentially Titanosaurid-sized proportions.

Instinction has also received its fair share of eyeballs by being featured on the Epic Games 2022 Sizzle Reel, The Future Games Show at E3 2021, the Intel presentation at CES 2022 and over 200+ online articles and interviews.

Here are some more screenshots of the game to whet your appetite and scratch your dinosaur itch:


The Market

As we all know, gaming is the largest and most valuable entertainment market in the world. With Instinction, Hashbane targets a $9bn (227m gamers) slice of the broader $180.3 billion gaming market. This TAM (total addressable market) does not factor in potential additional revenue from merchandise and other content formats.

Hashbane has its eyes set on becoming a leading AA studio and standing shoulder-to-shoulder with the likes of Ninja Theory (Hellblade), DONTNOD (Vampyr) and Rebellion (Sniper Elite & Evil Genius). To put AA into context, approximately 200 AA or AAA games are released per year, representing 5% of the total game titles put out into the wild on an annual basis. The remaining 95% are indie games published on Steam or viable mobile app stores.

AA studios are nearly always backed by a large publisher (EA, PlayStation, Ubisoft etc.) who provide significant marketing, distribution and technical support. Hashbane is in the exciting process of selecting the right publisher, and we look forward to advising them through this critical stage.

With AA games, more often than not, you get a game with a higher degree of production values, polygonal graphics, voice acting, and more creative premises and a focus on specific strata of gamers. The things that plague AAA games (bloated production budgets or massive advertisement campaigns) are irrelevant to AA developers. Their production cost is usually a fraction of the occasionally absurd amount poured into creating a AAA game, meaning that their sales goals are smaller. Therefore, their financial risks are also smaller.

In short, sometimes, less is more.

In my experience, the developers of AA games can become the equivalent of folk heroes in the gaming world. The gamers who are excited about their titles volunteer themselves as QA, designers and marketers. We have seen this first-hand with the current Instinction fan base voting for their favourite dinosaurs and even joining our team.


The Team

We also found it fascinating that the entire Hashbane team is a collective passion and love for dinosaurs and for pushing the video game medium further than ever before.

Jade Saunders (Co-founder and CEO) & Courtney O’Neil (Co-founder and COO)

Jade & Courtney are the Co-founders of Hashbane. They both started their professional career in the Architecture Visualisation industry, working with various companies to create beautiful, life-like visuals and models of property, among other things. However, on the side, they have been avid explorers of palaeontology, diving deep into the world of dinosaurs and how these fantastic creatures lived on this earth before us. So, it was not a surprise that they had inspiration from Dino Crisis and Turok when ideating Instinction.

Daryl Leigh Lynn

Daryl is the genius behind Hashbane’s music and overall audio design. Daryl is London-born and had also grown up playing the historic dinosaur games we’ve come to know and cherish. He joined Hashbane because of this passion and the need to create a game and studio that pushes visual fidelity to its limits and designs musical scores that bring back the nostalgia we had playing these old games. Daryl has had an extensive background as a composer. He has worked as a composer on films such as Exodus: Jurassic World, Laura’s Story and Clowns. Most recently, he had been chosen and tasked to create a musical opening for the 39th Golden Joystick Awards, where he organised 20+ musicians to create a musical score based on the history of video games.

Dean Brown

Dean is a Game Designer and 3D Artist at Hashbane. Based in Sunderland, UK, Dean recently graduated from the University of Sunderland with a first-class honours degree in Game & App Design with two additional awards–the Ede & Ravenscroft Award and an Outstanding Achievement Award. He has been developing his games for several years and is keen to advance the video game medium further than ever before.


Hillfarrance’s unique edge


Rob Vickery – a.k.a. The Boy Who Never Grew Up

Whilst we are only a handful of institutional venture capital funds investing in the New Zealand gaming market, what makes us even more unique is that we also have a Founder & Managing Partner who is a proud amateur palaeontologist and dinosaur nut.

Through Rob’s passion for the Terrible Lizards, we have already been able to provide some thoughts on the physiology and behavioural traits of one species in the game. We also look forward to engaging some palaeontologists in our network to ensure that our dinosaurs are as accurate as possible.

Combine this with our team’s experience in the entertainment industry, and we think we have a pretty fantastic match with Jade, Courtney and the rest of the Hashbane team.


Hashbane are hiring

As a result of this round of founding, Hashbane are looking to add the following roles to the team:


Follow Hashbane and Instinction

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