Fiercely Independent: That’s Just How East Side Games Rolls

What could the one-year-old East Side Games ask for on their birthday? How about a little more space?

It looks like they’re bursting at the seams. But according to Josh Nilson, COO, they’re nowhere close to capacity—nor close to giving up their very cool Gastown headquarters.

Going from a team of 14 to a team of 50 in a year was all part of the master plan. So forget space: adding another hit game is always going to be on the wishlist.

Since being founded in July 2011, this team has firmly set their sights at being a powerhouse of social and mobile games. Along with Josh Nilson, Jason Bailey (CEO), and Galan Akin (Creative Director), this studio this studio is on a roll with several live titles including NomNom Combo (iOS), Zombinis (Google+ and Facebook), Blaze Runner (iOS) and their flagship game, Pot Farm (Facebook and Standalone).

Collectively East Side Games has had over six million installs and have well over half a million unique users across their games every month.

But even though pumping out hit games is great, it’s actually having more great people on the team to help blow out the candles on their birthday cake that tops the list.

Sure there’s a cool office; sure they have nice lunches served up every Wednesday; who wouldn’t want at least an hour of playtime a day; having a couple of hits to their credit looks really good; and how about claiming to have a team with over 100 years of combined experience working at AAA studios such as Blizzard/Activision, THQ, Crytek, EA, Rockstar, Disney and Ubisoft? As well, they have over 60 years’ experience in the social/mobile space at studios such as DES Games, Hothead Games, Nexon America, Club Penguin (Disney) and Magellan Interactive. But what’s really defining about the East Side Games culture is their drive to be “fiercely independent.”

Being fiercely independent and deliberate about not being the “typical” studio is reflective in the diversity of the team. According to recently hired Susannah Skerl (Social Connector and Talent Ninja), “the ESG story is one of diversity. Women are very well represented at the studio, and there are folks from various backgrounds—some, like Galan and me, who met in the mid 90’s at studios like Radical. Others are bright young talents like our recent hire Gabe, who was a wonderful fit because he was already making his own games and putting them out on the app store; his industriousness and drive fit right in with ESG’s culture.”



The ESG team also highlights their understanding of how to promote people’s interests in developing their skills alongside the games, and technology they create. The studio founders have made a provision for staff to work on side projects on their own time, and “fiercely” supporting those efforts. Josh, Galan and Jason’s investment in the start-up space is more than lip service—it’s a daily philosophy. 

They’re currently cooking up a new mobile game, coming soon to your iOS device that’s possibly “better than unicorn bacon.” Also in the works is a Super-Secret HTML5 game loaded with extra awesome. This birthday crew is focusing on making quirky and original social and mobile games with a bit of edge and a lot of humour.

Without question East side Games is the epitome of work hard, play hard. But there’s also no question they’re getting great results and having fun doing it.