Rust developer Facepunch Studios has canceled a small event that would have taken place at a coffee shop in San Francisco next week, citing “an IRL threat.”
The meet and greet was set to take place near the 2023 Game Developers Conference, and was pitched by Facepunch as a chance for conference attendees and fans to meet the Rust team, share their portfolios, and “talk shop.”
In an email exchange, Rust producer Alistair McFarlane told PC Gamer that threats are “commonplace” for developers of the survival game.
“Community facing staff see threats daily,” he wrote, typically from players who “lash out on social media” over changes they don’t like. McFarlane also pointed to cheat makers and users as a source of harassment and threats, saying that individuals from the “cheat community” will “often go to great efforts to target individual staff members.”
In some instances, staff members and their families have had to “change personal details” due to doxxing, McFarlane said, which “often takes a heavy toll on their mental health.”
The location of next week’s event had been broadcast publicly, and following “threats to kill,” the studio decided that holding it would present too great a safety risk and cause too much anxiety for staff.
“These threats are very concerning and must be taken seriously,” said McFarlane.
Facepunch will still be attending GDC as planned, and says that those who’d planned to go to the meetup can instead get in touch by email.
This is not a statement we’re happy to announce.Due to an IRL threat we must take seriously, we’re going to have to cancel the GDC meetup in San Fran next week. 😢If you would like to show us portfolios, talk shop, or get feedback on your work reach out via email! (below)March 15, 2023
The cancellation has been met with disappointed head-shaking on Twitter, but not a great deal of surprise. Death threats are a problem for everyone in the games business, from employees of giant corporations to solo developers. In recent memory we’ve covered threats received by Bungie, CD Projekt, Twitch streamers, and modders, which are just a few instances among many more.
“The overwhelming majority of fans are respectful and supportive,” McFarlane wrote, but “there is always going to be a small subset of individuals who engage in threatening and abusive behaviour.”
The canceled meetup was set to take place outside of GDC, but I’ve asked the conference organizers for comment. Facepunch hasn’t said whether or not it involved police in its decision to cancel the event—I’ll update this story if I hear more.