Cities: Skylines 2 dev says they were "caught off guard" by the success of the original city-builder after it sold 40 times more than their expectations

Paradox Interactive
(Image credit: Colossal Order Ltd.)

The original Cities: Skylines from 2015 became a massive, unexpected hit for developer Colossal Order Ltd and publisher Paradox Interactive. Focusing on building a city and community from the ground up, Cities: Skylines found an audience craving a deep and involved take on city-building now that the popular SimCity series has been in hibernation.

With the upcoming release of Cities: Skylines 2 on October 24, the developers at Colossal Order Ltd took some time to reflect on the sudden and continued success of the first game in the latest issue of PC Gamer Magazine, and how that changed their plans for future games.

In the interview with Colossal Order CEO Mariina Hallikainen, they spoke about their initial and very modest expectations for the original game, hoping to sell 300,000 copies for the game, which it subsequently blew past after launch. The CEO stated, "We were completely caught off guard by the game's success, and we did not anticipate the success in the sense that it was never meant to be such a long-term commitment."

The unexpected success of Cities: Skylines led to the developers having to pivot supporting their hit game, overhauling their prospective post-launch plans, and even shelving other planned projects to keep up with work on the game. In the eight years since its debut, the original game has seen regular content updates and DLC drops, greatly expanding its scope.

As of 2023, Cities: Skylines has sold 12 million copies across PC and consoles, and it's one of the rare city-building games available on PlayStation and Xbox. Compared to EA's SimCity, which apparently had a team of over 100 developers, the original Cities: Skylines was made with a team of just under ten people, which resulted in a much higher return. The sequel has a larger team working on it, but the total headcount is under twenty active developers.

Still, Cities: Skylines 2 is shaping up to be a greatly improved sequel that looks to carry on with a deep focus on building a prosperous town - though, as our Cities: Skylines 2 review notes, there are some serious performance issues holding it back at launch. Given the original's success and Colossal Order's history of regular, robust updates, the sequel will likely find great success as well. 

For you're in need other another city builder ahead of the release of Cities: Skylines 2, check out the best city-building games you can play right now.

Alessandro Fillari

Alessandro is a freelance writer and editor based in the San Francisco Bay Area who has covered the games, tech, and entertainment industries for more than 13 years. Having previously worked at GameSpot, CNET, and various other outlets writing features and coordinating event coverage, Alessandro enjoys playing games on PC, but also gives plenty of time to his Nintendo Switch. You can find him on various socials at @afillari.