Cities: Skylines 2 launched on October 24 in a not-so-great state. As a result, the studio behind the game, Colossal Order, received plenty of criticism over its state upon release. However, according to the studio’s CEO Mariina Hallikainen, since Skylines 2’s launch, the devs have noticed a “growing” level of “toxicity” in its community—and if that toxicity continues, it could lead to devs communicating less online.
Last fall, city builder and simulator Cities: Skylines 2 arrived on PC with massive performance problems and frustrating bugs. Some of this has been fixed in the months since release, and the studio announced in November that it was delaying DLC to continue to focus on patches and improvements. But, even as the game improves, some players have persistently been toxic and shitty to devs online, prompting a new message from Colossal Order’s boss via the game’s official forums.
In a new Word of the Week (a near-weekly developer diary), Hallikainen devotes a large chunk to discussing the “growing tendency of toxicity in our community.” According to her, the studio and its devs have not experienced the amount of shitty behavior “to this extent before.”
“Not only [is the toxicity] directed towards our devs but also our fellow community members—resulting in people hesitating to engage with the community,” Hallikainen said. “In the long run, this will really hurt not only the mood and the happiness of community members but also discourage creativity and modding, something we would be very sad to see.”
Hallikainen said that Colossal Order has always “treasured” how its developers are active on social media and directly communicate with players. However, she made it clear that the studio’s “biggest responsibility” is “protecting the team” and making sure they have a safe place to do the best work they can. Further, Hallikainen noted that previous attempts to ask the community to stop being toxic have not “moved the needle.” So she asked fans for ideas on how to improve communications, and also floated the possibility the devs might stop talking to fans online if things don’t get better.
Devs want feedback, not abusive threats
The post poses a question countless devs and community members have likely asked before: “Should we add more moderation or is the only option to pull back our engagement on our end?”
Later on, Hallikainen responded to players suggesting that this was normal and that other games with rough launches—like CyberPunk 2077—dealt with similar toxic and shitty fans until the game was fixed.
“Toxicity and criticism are different things, I’m sure you understand that,” Hallikainen explained.
“Toxicity is threats, attacking people, and being outright mean. It has nothing to do with explaining what [issues] with the game you might be facing and what you wish for the devs to fix or improve on first. We don’t want praise, we want a community where we can discuss [Cities: Skylines II] with the players…what is working and what is not without facing abuse.”
This is far from the first time we’ve seen gamers treating devs and others invoked with game creation terribly. Earlier this month, the face model for MJ in the Insomniac Spider-Man games asked fans to stop calling and harassing her day job. Players have also sent harassing messages to other game devs and actors simply because they don’t like a game or a character. We’ve even seen Twitch streamers report stalkers within the community.
Unfortunately, as online platforms like X/Twitter become less moderated and places like Substack do little to fight back against Nazis and other assholes posting garbage on the web, it seems unlikely that Colossal Order or any other studios for that matter will see any reduction in online toxicity anytime soon. We can still hope, though.