Cities: Skylines 2 studio boss warns that growing toxicity could force developers to 'pull back our engagement' with the community

 A citizen in a modern city.
A citizen in a modern city.

Cities: Skylines 2 was not in great shape when it launched in 2023. The underlying game was quite good but it was plagued with performance problems and missing a number of features, most notably an editor. That sparked a quick backlash on Steam, visible in the "mixed" user rating, but it also kicked off what Colossal Order CEO Mariina Hallikainen described as "a growing tendency of toxicity in our community."

Hallikainen said the level of toxic behaviour that's followed in the wake of Cities: Skylines 2 is "something we have not experienced to this extent before," and it's aimed not just at developers but players as well. That could have a negative impact on the game in the long run, she warned, as it discourages people from interacting with other members of the community: "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."

"We have always treasured having the devs present on the different social platforms and having direct communication with the community, but our biggest responsibility will always be protecting the team and making sure they work in a safe environment so they are allowed to do their best staying motivated and productive," Hallikainen wrote on the Paradox forums. (Paradox Interactive is the publisher of Cities: Skylines 2.) "So we hope we can all work together for our devs to be able to stay and be continuously active."

Hallikainen's caution is reminiscent of the situation at Destiny 2 studio Bungie, which in 2022 cut back on developer interactions with players as a result of ongoing harassment and "real threats" directed at employees by members of the community. In January 2023 Bungie established an anonymized "Destiny 2 Team" account on Twitter that it said would "help us move away from using community managers’ personal accounts as we have in the past," and Hallikainen—who said that "mentions of this in previous entries do not seem to have moved the needle"—is now looking for ways Colossal Order can "improve the way we communicate with each other."

"Should we add more moderation or is the only option to pull back our engagement on our end? How can we make sure the community is a safe place for you to share your thoughts and hopes for the game?"

The responses to Hallikainen's message on the Paradox forums are largely positive, although it's a bit more heated in the Steam comments. Many replies point the finger at the state of the game as the real source of the issue, and accuse Hallikainen of trying to blame players for a bad game launch. In a follow-up message, however, Hallikainen said that "toxicity and criticism are different things."

"Toxicity is threats, attacking people and being outright mean. It has nothing to do with explaining what the 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 with the players about the game, what is working and what is not without facing abuse."

As for Cities: Skylines 2 itself, Hallikainen said the editor is expected to be ready to begin closed beta testing "in a few weeks," although there's a persistent issue with asset imports that developers are still working on. Before the editor goes live, a patch with "fixes for simulation and visual bugs, both based on internal findings and issues reported by you" will be rolled out—the full patch notes will be released when the patch goes live.