Cities: Skylines 2 devs decided "performance is not a deal-breaker for all the players"

Cities: Skylines 2
(Image credit: Paradox Interactive)

Update, October 25: As Cities: Skylines 2 reaches 51% negative reviews on Steam, largely due to the game's substantial performance issues, the devs have issued a new Steam blog detailing their post-launch plans for the title.

Many of the comments echo what the studio said in a recent Reddit AMA - you can read some of the most notable quotes from that below - but of particular interest is how the studio frames its decision to release the game given its current state.

"While some setups on PC have challenges, we concluded the performance is not a dealbreaker for all the players," the devs write. "For us, the number one priority is for the players to have fun with the game, and we had seen enough feedback from players enjoying the game that it would be more unfair to postpone. We know we will keep working on the game and do our best to fix issues as fast as possible, so we wanted to respect the announced release date and allow people to start playing the game."

Original story, October 24: Cities: Skylines 2 launches today, and it's no secret that the game is arriving with some serious performance limitations. The devs at Colossal Order are working on improvements, but you should keep your expectations in check - it seems the devs are focused on a steady 30 FPS target rather than optimizing the game for higher frame rates.

"It is worth mentioning for a game like this, the performance target is to run at a steady 30 FPS minimum (not 60 or more)," as the studio's chief technical officer - who goes by 'damsku' - explained in a recent Reddit AMA.

"The target is 30 FPS because of the nature of the game," damsku said in a follow-up message. "(Arguably) there are no real benefits in a city builder to aim for higher FPS (unlike a multiplayer shooter), as a growing city will inevitably become CPU bound. What matters more with this type of game is to avoid stutters, and have responsive UI. For that reason, our simulation is also built around an expected update rate given 30 FPS."

In our Cities: Skylines 2 review, I gave the game two stars out of five largely because of its performance limitations. By the time my city crossed around 50,000 people, I would've given anything for a steady 30 FPS - unfortunately, while my hardware was capable of reaching that frame rate more often than not, those "stutters" damsku mentioned were downright egregious on my setup.

But that's one of the first points of order for the devs in post-launch patches. damsku said that one of the priorities for the team is "removing stutters, generally caused by some synchronization condition in the simulation and can greatly vary from one CPU to another, as well as how your city is built," in addition to more balanced GPU performance and general CPU optimization. Unfortunately, you won't see these improvements in the version of Cities: Skylines 2 that'll be available today.

Even with the 30 FPS target, however, the devs aren't limiting themselves. "It does not hurt to get 60 FPS as it can contribute to better visuals in relation to temporal effects," damsku admits. "So while our target is 30 FPS, we don't intend on limiting or stopping the optimization work just because we reach it on recommended hardware. We just don't believe there would be a long-term benefit in setting the target to 60 FPS, especially because we face rendering challenges both from close up and far distances."

If you're waiting for the patches before diving into Cities: Skylines 2, check out our guide to the best city-building games to play in the meantime. 

Dustin Bailey
Staff Writer

Dustin Bailey joined the GamesRadar team as a Staff Writer in May 2022, and is currently based in Missouri. He's been covering games (with occasional dalliances in the worlds of anime and pro wrestling) since 2015, first as a freelancer, then as a news writer at PCGamesN for nearly five years. His love for games was sparked somewhere between Metal Gear Solid 2 and Knights of the Old Republic, and these days you can usually find him splitting his entertainment time between retro gaming, the latest big action-adventure title, or a long haul in American Truck Simulator.