East Side Games’ Josh Nilson on the idle genre

“More people are playing games on multiple platforms, and people are consuming content more than ever, across the board.”

East Side Games’ Josh Nilson on the idle genre

Josh Nilson is the CEO and co-founder of East Side Games (ESG), making the best narrative idle games in the business, and creating the technology for developers to tell amazing stories. In 2017, ESG launched Trailer Park Boys: Greasy Money. TPB was a top 100 game in over 100 countries with great player reviews and excellent fan engagement.

It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia: The Gang Goes Mobile launched in 2019 and is still growing and delighting its amazing fanbase. Watch out for some new games coming out in 2020 that they are super excited to launch!

We caught up with Nilson to discuss the idle genre and what the future means for this mode of gaming. Tell us a bit about East Side Games

Josh Nilson: Founded in 2011, East Side Games (ESG) is a proudly independent and profitable game studio that is based in Vancouver BC, the 2nd largest game cluster in Canada. They strongly believe in community-driven design, having the best culture around, and making games built by fans, for fans.

ESG made the Deloitte Technology Top 500, for the fastest-growing startups in North America and the Deloitte Technology Top 50 in Canada in 2017 and 2018. ESG was recognized in the Globe & Mail Report on Business - Canada's Top Growing Companies 2019, and are a finalist in the Pocket Gamer Mobile Games Awards 2020 for Best Developer. If you see them in a dive bar, they’ll buy you a beer.

What does your role entail?

Running a small but busy studio, hiring the best people around, mentoring other studios in the amazing Vancouver game space, and disguising actual meetings by saying "let's go for a coffee”.

Why did you want to work in the games industry?

It's amazing to make something and see immediate feedback from players. It's not enough to just have a great game, you need to provide exceptional service.

What advice would you give to anyone looking to get into it?

Work hard, and don't expect immediate results. I love saying ESG was an overnight success 7 years in the making. Set small (monthly) or micro goals (daily) with a focus on shipping and letting people play your games, then learn from that. If you are going to apply at studios, you need to have content to show at your interviews: playable demo, design doc, production plan, live stream links/ recordings, etc. Prove how you will make an immediate difference if hired.

What are your thoughts on the industry in the last 12 months?

Mobile continues to grow, more people are playing games on multiple platforms, and people are consuming content more than ever, across the board. 2019 was a huge year for collaboration for East Side Games; we are working with the best independent studios in the world to create some really exciting games.

What major trends do you predict in the next 12 months?

Not a trend, but more people are going to start playing games for the first time, and they will choose casual games. The term "gamer" will apply to more and more people in the next year. You’ll see more Independent studios collaborate versus using the traditional publishing model, like we are doing with some amazing partners. Check out FUBAR: Just Give’r!

How has the games industry changed since you first started?

It's amazing how much it has changed in the last ten years. There are so many different types of games and audiences, and it is now normal for everyone to play games. This is great!

Games are now being used to extend content in traditional experiences, like books, TV and movies. Live events are now common and people consume them like weekly shows on streaming services.

We also engage with our fans more, through weekly steams, social media - we are always getting great suggestions from our fans to make our games even better. Studios are changing too, there is still lots of work to do, but we are now seeing studios that are not all dudes, and this is great.

Which part of the Connects event are you most looking forward to and why?

The knowledge shared in the talks, and the real stories that spill out in the pub afterwards.

At Pocket Gamer Connects London 2020, Josh Nilson will feature on a panel: “Idle Worship.” For more information, and to buy your tickets, click here.