Vancouver Game Studio Spotlight: East Side Games


Rooted in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside community since 2011, East Side Games is an independent game studio that knows what it’s about and loves what it does. Their flagship title “Pot Farm” garnered a huge fan base as a Facebook game, then made waves as “Pot Farm: Grass Roots” for handheld devices in the Google Play store which, to date, has over 5 million installs.

Recently I got to sit down with East Side Games CEO and co-founder Josh Nilson as well as Team and Culture Manager Lidi Giroux to learn more about the successfully independent studio and the passionate people who run it.

ESG -1.2

Photo Credit – Wyatt Fossett

“Our biggest challenge is making sure we’re making games our players love and having the best in business customer service.” Says Nilson. One of the ways ESG accomplishes this is through their crazy attention to player feedback. When a player reports a bug, that information goes directly to the developers; this leads to regular updates that are constantly optimizing their games. This transparency between player and developer is seldom seen in AAA game companies, and it is refreshing to see game makers stand behind their games so diligently.

“Fiercely Independent” is the rally call for East Side Games, and rightly so; this game studio runs solely on the profits of the games they make. This grants ESG a lot of creative freedom when developing their games. The people who work at this studio are making games that they would want to play, and can’t wait to share; the excitement in the way they talk about their games was awesome.

Despite their success, East Side Games is a remarkably humble game company; they have a clear admiration for their community in Vancouver and consider it their duty as locals to give back to it. They accomplish this, for example, by using their success to raise money for Crabtree Corner, a charity that is dedicated to helping marginalized women and families in Vancouver’s downtown eastside.

ESG - 2.2

Photo credit: Wyatt Fossett

Currently, East Side Games is working on an upcoming handheld game based on the popular Trailer Park Boys TV series that is slated to release on iOS and Android platforms in 2016.
ESG couldn’t speak too much about the content or narrative element of the game but noted that they were working closely with the show’s creators to create a fun and authentic Trailer Park Boys game for long-time fans of the series and newcomers alike.

I wish I could have spent more time at the studio with East Side Games. The anything goes creative atmosphere coupled with their insane work ethic made for a pretty addicting environment that I wanted to learn more about. Self-reliant and constantly striving to make better games are the pedigree of any successful indie game company worth its salt, and East Side Games seems to have that aced. This team of hard working and passionate local misfits make me excited to be a gamer, and serves as another great reason why Vancouver is so awesome.

Learn more about the studio at eastsidegames.com
Show your support by following ESG on Facebook and Twitter, where you can also learn more about the upcoming Trailer Park Boys game.
Also, you can check out their live streams on Twitch, every Tuesday at 4:20 pm.