2 min read

EGD 7: Staying Fiercely Independent and How Culture is King with Josh Nilson from East Side Games

Josh Nilson is the co-founder and CEO of East Side Games, out of Vancouver. East Side Games is an independent game studio, and they are a unique games company in everything they do. On their website, they say that “We take pride in doing things differently and embrace having a unique player base. This attitude allows us to be so much more than just a game studio. We are a place where people come not just to work, but to live, laugh, play and grow. We create products that encourage laughter and community.” 

Highlights from the episode

  • Josh started in the games industry at Relic, did IT and engineering to kick off his gaming career
  • Then he transitioned into operations, and built up East Side Games with two other founders
  • East Side Games never raised money, always have been bootstrapping and making money from quick games
  • Idea creation: anybody in the company gets to pitch ideas, you stand up and say “I want to pitch this game idea!”
  • Now developed a framework: narrative idle game framework is now what the company is working with, i.e. Trailer Park Boys, It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, Fubar (Film from 2002)
  • IPs for ESD: is this something valuable for people who love the characters, who want to spend time with the characters
  • Hiring for live ops is different, as things can be on fire and there might be challenging situations coming up. You have to own a problem but you have the possibility to solve it.
  • At the darkest hour, the team worked to get things going again. Once the challenges were solved, people had stayed up till the late hours but still got back to work the next morning.
  • Scary moments come from dealing with people who are on the team but just don’t fit, or that you have a key person leaving, but you need to understand that it’s natural and people might not be the right fit
  • You can’t overplay enough for your next game. What does your revenue now look like, how much money you have in the bank.

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