Josh Nilson talks about managing your community through various platforms in a panel during Casual Connect USA 2014. “You have to start planning from the start of the project and organically build that into your game, what channels you want, and allow time for iteration, just like game design,” he advised. “So you want to work closely with your creators, your artists, and your game designers to do that.”
Josh Nilson is the co-founder and CEO of East Side Games. Before starting this company, he worked in tech startup companies in the Vancouver area and also for Relic Entertainment in Vancouver. Now, he finds the greatest gratification working in the games industry, through building games and creating new worlds with them. He claims, “It’s inspiring and amazing to see the stories our fans come up with in our games.”
He also enjoys connecting with other studios to share information and learn from them. He values the parties they throw, often through Indie Power, for the networking opportunities they give. In this industry, he believes, “You never stop learning.”
Bootstrapped and Scrappy
Nilson describes East Side Games as bootstrapped, scrappy, and active in the local games community. He is very proud of the way they have built this company and grown with their fans over the last 3 ½ years. They are still building all the games they want, but now they are seeing former East Side Games people move on to create their own Indie studios and projects, something he considers “all kinds of awesome!”
At East Side Games, Nilson handles what the company will be doing over the coming three to six months, as well as overseeing projects and business development. They have now hired a team of passionate people; Nilson makes it possible (or, he says, gets out of the way) for them to create something wonderful.
User Acquisition Challenges
The most challenging aspect of the games industry today, as he sees it, is user acquisition. He asks, “How do you turn people trying out your game into players? Then, how do you turn them into fans?” With the cost of acquiring players increasing, he knows it is extremely important to consider the fans from the start of a project. Many studios build amazing games, but think of player support as something to deal with later.
At East Side Games, they assemble their teams with acquisition in mind, and have set high benchmarks for customer support. They keep the metrics open to the entire team, and everyone working on the games works alongside the CS team for the first week so they will understand the importance of this aspect of the project. He admits that there is still a lot of work to do in this area, but feels they have made a good start and are making continuing efforts to improve.
When Nilson considers how the games industry will evolve in the next three to five years, he notes that casual games have already vastly increased the number of people playing games, and considers this a great development. He believes we will see even more casual game hits, with companies like Toca Boca and Sago Sago driving younger, engaged players into games even earlier. He expects amazing growth in this area to continue.
Time away from work has Nilson hanging out with his grouchy old Pug, Jabba. He also enjoys hipster beer, coffee, and good movies. And, like every good Canadian, he is always ready for anything hockey, anytime.
At Casual Connect USA, Nilson announced that Munchie Farm is coming out for mobile devices. He says, “The game world is crazy; you grow junk food from plants because junk food has been banned in the world. This game is going to be a lot of fun!”
Catherine Quinton is a staff writer for www.gamesauce.org. Catherine loves her hobby farm, long walks in the country and reading great novels.