What is Rust and why are people playing it on Twitch?

Offline TV is starting a revolution.

Screengrab via Facepunch Studios

For many people, Rust might sound like a familiar game. While you may not have played the Facepunch Studios game, it’s been out for a few years already.

With early access to the game starting in 2013, the online multiplayer survival game mixes elements from titles like Minecraft and DayZ.  Though the game’s open-world threats like bears and wolves are very real, the game’s multiplayer nature has the potential to result in PvP scenarios that resemble what you might find in popular battle royale games.

But following the game’s release in early 2018, the title never gained much traction on streaming platforms like Twitch. But now, the likes of Shroud and xQc are playing it all of the time.

So why are the top content creators playing Rust all of a sudden?

Well, that can be explained by an organized effort from the popular content creation group Offline TV (OTV). Last month, OTV initiated its latest project of creating a server for Rust and giving access to a slew of streamers.

While the initial focus of the server has been largely on roleplaying, much in the way that made Grand Theft Auto a popular content form on Twitch, elements of PvP have come to the forefront of the server as well.

Since the server was fired up on Dec. 27, the Rust category on Twitch has skyrocketed its way to the second most-watched game on Twitch behind only Escape from Tarkov, which has an in-game drop event going on with the platform.

Rust’s more than 27 million hours watched is led by xQc, Shroud, TSM’s Myth, and OTV’s Sykkuno. The four streamers combined to make up more than 10 million hours watched playing Rust from Dec. 27 to Jan. 4.

Fighting for roles

If you don’t see much Rust gameplay on Twitch from tomorrow until Thursday, Jan. 7, it’s because the OTV Rust server is going down for a little while. And one of the main reasons appears to be a creative difference between some streamers involved.

While players like xQc have been successful in their Rust campaigns, there seems to be a growing division between players who are interested in optimizing their survival through PvP encounters and those who’d prefer to roleplay more. 

Progress made by xQc’s “Team Rocket” group has even warranted a prediction of the server’s demise from Shroud, who has shown exceptional survival skills of his own with minimal PvP.

“This server is going to implode soon, I can just feel it,” he said on stream. “I’m predicting now that xQc is making a base, they’re going to gather up, and they’re going to start fucking people up. Once that happens, either the server dies or he (xQc) gets kicked.”

Since then, Pokimane, one of OTV’s most prominent members, said she would no longer play Rust unless a more roleplay-oriented server is created.

Not long after that, a new Rust server was announced for OTV. But this time around, the emphasis will be on roleplaying and “some incentivized PvP.” 

OTV member Abe added in a post to Twitter that the original server will remain available for those who’d rather focus on the more competitive and PvP aspects of Rust.

The implications of having two servers with different focuses seems positive on the surface. Streamers who want to play without the anxiety of impending destruction of their bases by people looking to burn the world down can rest easy. At the same time, those who want a hardcore experience will be able to strive for that. It’ll just be on a different server.

The success of the split could be determined by which servers certain streamers go to. With players like Shroud and xQc at the forefront of Rust on Twitch, the potential head-to-head that could manifest from streamers participating in a PvP-heavy server would be a content gold mine. But that could potentially overshadow the more RP-driven server. 

The inverse could be true if there aren’t enough notable players who join xQc and crew on a PvP-centric server. 

We won’t know how it’ll pan out for a few days, but the continued viewership success of Rust on Twitch will likely be determined by the decisions that top influencers make regarding what server to play on when Jan. 7 rolls around.